New York Morning Commute Outlook Is ‘Tough,’ Bloomberg Says

“It’s fair to say you’re going to have a tough commute in the morning,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned New York City commuters today at a news conference describing the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.

“There’s taxis, and some people can walk,” Bloomberg suggested.

Irene struck New York City with winds of 65 miles (105 kilometers) an hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a special advisory. A storm surge of 3.8 feet was reported at New York Harbor and total water levels of 8.6 feet, or moderate-state flooding, were reported at Battery Park City in lower Manhattan before receding, the center said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates bus and commuter lines in and around New York suspended all service yesterday as Irene approached. MTA began today to resume limited service on bus routes in New York City, an MTA advisory said.

New York City subway service will resume at 6 a.m. tomorrow, although trains will run less frequently and be more crowded than normal, according to a statement from the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Staten Island Railway will resume normal service tonight at midnight.

Commuter rail service in and out of the area is being assessed for damage before a service return schedule is set. MTA said its workers are walking the tracks to inspect them.

“All we have to do is run down the preliminary assessment of what’s happening with our services,” MTA Chairman Jay Walder said at the news conference he shared with Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP. The timing on “restoration of services will be made after these assessments are completed,” Walder said.

All MTA bridges and tunnels were opened late today.

Metro-North Hardest Hit

A decision made before the storm arrived “to get the buses out of harm’s way means the equipment is fine,” Walder said.

MTA’s train system may have sustained the most damage, Walder said.

Metro-North Railroad, the train line fanning out across the lower portion of New York state and into Connecticut has had widespread flooding, mudslides, and fallen trees hampering the New Haven, New Canaan, Hudson, and Harlem lines, said Marjorie Anders, a Metro-North spokeswoman.

Water covered the rails and was touching the electrified third rail at the Valhalla, Cortland and Ossining stations, she said. The track was washed out on the Port Jervis line between the Otisville and Middletown stations, she said.

Trees are blocking the tracks at several locations along the Long Island Railroad and some portions of the system are flooded, MTA said.

No Game Train

New Jersey Transit Corp. isn’t operating any buses, rail or light rail trains today, although will resume a “modified schedule” tomorrow, the agency said on its website. “Rail service will remain suspended until further notice,” except for the Atlantic City line, the advisory said.

Some NJTC rail stations are flooded and downed trees are blocking the tracks at several locations.

There will be no service the Meadowlands Sports Complex for tomorrow’s National Football League game between the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

The system’s light rail and river lines will each operate according to the schedules normally used on weekends, NJTC said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it would resume rail service in New Jersey and New York City at 4 a.m. tomorrow. The bi-state agency also said Hudson River crossings and Staten Island bridges are in full operation and collecting tolls.

Airports to Open

Newark Liberty and New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports were closed by the authority as the region braced for Irene’s arrival. The airports form the busiest U.S. aviation market, with 104 million travelers in 2010.

JFK and Newark airports will open to arriving flights at 6 a.m. tomorrow with departures set to resume at noon. LaGuardia Airport will reopen to both arrivals and departures at 7 a.m. tomorrow, the authority said in a statement.

The U.S. Coast Guard eased restrictions on operations within the Port of New York and New Jersey after Irene neared the U.S.-Canada border.

The port is open to all commercial traffic and ocean-going vessels, which will begin entering the harbor tonight, according to a statement from the Coast Guard. The Staten Island Ferry resumed operations at 3 p.m. today, it said.

Amtrak said it will operate “most” regional trains between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., starting tomorrow, although service between Boston and Philadelphia is canceled because of flooding, power issues and debris on rail tracks.

Acela Express service between Boston and Washington is also canceled.

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