New York subway, commuter trains to resume limited service

After being deluged by Hurricane Sandy, the New York City subway and commuter rail systems will resume service Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning on a limited basis.

The announcement was made Wednesday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Cuomo said trains would begin running on the Metro-North and Long Island Railroad railways Wednesday afternoon, and subway service will follow in areas north of hard-hit lower Manhattan.

Bus service was restored in the New York on a partial basis Tuesday, and the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will be used to cover for rail service that is still out south of Manhattan's 34th Street and going into Brooklyn.

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The MTA said earlier this week that seven subway tunnels connecting the two boroughs that run under New York's East River flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

The New York City subway is the busiest public transportation system in the U.S., averaging more than 5 million riders on a daily basis. It has by far more miles of track and stations than any other American transit system.

The MTA warned Wednesday, however, that it would take some time before service on the sprawling subway system is fully restored. 

"While both limited rail and subway service is being restored on a line-by-line and branch-by-branch basis, the work to restore full service on the commuter rail and subway network is ongoing," the agency said in a statement on its website. "Thousands of MTA workers are still out across the entire 5,000 square mile MTA service region inspecting and repairing the damage caused the massively destructive storm of historic proportions." 

Despite the partial service restoration, the MTA said it was "still too early to say how long it will take to restore the system to full service.

"This will be an exhaustive, time-consuming process with one goal: to restore safe and efficient service to 8.5 million daily MTA customers," the agency said, counting its rail and bus passengers. 

The MTA attributed its ability to reopen any of its rail service at all to its decision to pre-emptively shut down all of its trains the day before Sandy was forecast to make landfall.

"This process could have taken much longer had we not taken the pre-emptive measure of suspending all service to safeguard our equipment and prepare facilities to the best of our ability," the agency said.