New York: New York`s subway system, a crucial lifeline for the city, resumed limited service today after three days of closure in the wake of superstorm Sandy, providing some relief to thousands of commuters affected due to the worst traffic crises.
The city`s mass transit authority said 14 of the 26 subway lines will begin operating today even as uncertainty loomed over the full restoration of service, which officials said could take days.
With tunnels still flooded and power outages yet to be fixed in lower Manhattan, subways and trains going into the area remained suspended.
The New York city subway system is the lifeline for about 8.7 million people who use the public transport to get to work daily.
During the three days that the subway service was suspended, New Yorkers were forced to walk miles and wait in line for hours for buses.
Traffic was moving at a snail`s pace on the city`s roads as taxis and cars tried to navigate through detours and partially open bridges and tunnels.
In some relief to the commuters, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Metropolitan Transit Authority`s (MTA) subway, bus and commuter rail services will be free for today and tomorrow because of the transportation emergency.
"The gridlock we experienced yesterday shows that the New York metropolitan region is in a transportation emergency," Cuomo said.
"To get people out of their cars and onto mass transit, I immediately authorised the MTA to suspend transit fares through the end of the work week."
Referring to the system`s 8.7 million weekday users, MTA chairman and chief executive officer Joseph Lhota said, "we are going to come back even stronger than we were before, but until we get there I?m asking for their patience. For this service to come back, it`s basically rail by rail, switch by switch."
With no electricity to power the third rail or to operate signals in downtown Manhattan, there would still be no service in the area and downtown Brooklyn. The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad also began limited service yesterday.
Bus service was running at near normal levels on all local, limited and express routes.
MTA said given the limited service in operation, customers are advised to give themselves extra time for their commute, and if possible change their routine by travelling later in the morning or in the evening.
The PATH train service, which connects New Jersey to New York, still remained suspended till further notice.
A large majority of residents in New Jersey use the train service to get to work in Manhattan.
However, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he expected PATH trains to be unavailable for at least seven to 10 days given that it would take considerable time to drain out the water and restore power to the stations.