During his latest Hurricane Sandy update, Governor Cuomo announced that he was declaring a "Transportation Emergency" and waiving fares on NYC Transit subways and buses and Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter rails in order to encourage mass transit. Cuomo said of the high volume of car traffic today, "The gridlock was dangerous, frankly," and called it an "intolerable and dangerous situation."

Cuomo said, "One of the reasons we believe it was high was because mass transit was" out, and people were anxious to get to work after two days out. Hence the various high-occupancy vehicle measures put in place for city and state bridges where only passenger cars with three passengers or more will be allowed into Manhattan and this further measure of making mass transit into the city free. The governor said, "We hope it encourages people to take mass transit."

Limited subway service is scheduled to be up and running tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.—limited because the flooding and power outage has left the MTA unable to provide subways below 42nd Street on the East Side and 34th on the West Side through lower Manhattan. (Here's a map of the limited subway service.) Limited Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road service started today, and limited bus service started last night.
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We're still trying to get an answer from the MTA about how this week without service and Cuomo's gift of free service on Thursday and Friday will affect monthly Metrocard users. During Hurricane Irene, when the MTA shut down, the day counted on Metrocards, but who knows given a "Transportation Emergency"!

Update: Cuomo and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota also detailed LIRR and Metro-North service updates. For the LIRR, after restoring the Jamaica line to hourly service, the MTA expects to have the Ronkoma and Port Washington (from Great Neck) lines restored for hourly service tomorrow. For Metro-North, the Harlem line will be on a *regular* schedule. More details from the press release from Cuomo's office:

LIMITED LIRR SERVICE RESTORED

The LIRR has implemented hourly service between Jamaica Station and Penn Station. The LIRR expects to restore limited hourly service on Ronkonkonma Branch and on the Port Washington Branch from Great Neck for Thursday’s morning rush. There will be no stops during peak periods at Kew Gardens and Forest Hills - these stops will only be made during the off-peak. At 6:45 PM tonight, Penn Station opened to customers.

Earlier today, the LIRR restored limited, hourly service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn. In conjunction with the restored Jamaica-Brooklyn service, beginning tomorrow, customers will be able to connect to shuttle buses from Barclays Center (adjacent to the LIRR’s Atlantic Terminal) to Manhattan. Customers heading to downtown Manhattan should travel to Penn. The special buses running from Barclays Center in Brooklyn are dropping customers off in midtown, not downtown.

All trains leaving Jamaica to Atlantic Terminal and Penn Station tonight will follow the same times, which is at 10 minutes after the hour until 11:10 PM. After that time, all trains to Atlantic and Penn Station will leave at 45 minutes after the hour.

Schedules for the Service Restorations are below:

http://www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/RonkonkomaBrooklynTT_Nov1.pdf

http://www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/PortWashingtonTT_Nov1.pdf

LIRR employees have been working around the clock to restore as much service as possible on the LIRR’s four main branches - Port Washington, Ronkonkoma, Babylon, and Huntington. The LIRR’s primary obstacle to restoring service is restoration of power at its substations along its branches that feed the third rail. More than 20 substations remain without power. The LIRR has been in close contact with LIPA to coordinate work crews on this priority.

Two of four East River tunnels remain flooded and cannot be used at this time. In restoring the limited LIRR service to Penn Station, the LIRR will only be able to use two of four tunnels, which they share with Amtrak and NJ Transit.

Ronkonkoma Branch: Limited Hourly Service to be Restored for AM Rush Thursday
The LIRR will be restoring limited, hourly train service from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station for tomorrow morning's rush hour (Thursday, 11/1) starting at 5:37 AM. The restored Ronkonkoma Branch trains will not be stopping at Merillon Avenue, New Hyde Park, Westbury, and Carle Place.

Port Washington Branch: Limited Hourly Service from Great Neck to be Restored for AM Rush Thursday
Limited, hourly shuttle train service from Great Neck to Penn Station will be restored on the Port Washington Branch for tomorrow morning's rush hour (Thursday, 11/1) starting at 5:45 AM. Customers advised to be dropped off at the Great Neck Station, as limited parking is available.

LIRR Customers Should Anticipate Crowding
Because service will be limited, waits will be longer and trains will be more crowded. Customers are advised to consider changing their normal routines to travel later in the morning or later in the evening. Customers should anticipate crowded conditions on all LIRR trains that run until more service is restored. For safety reasons, some trains may be required to skip stations if they become overcrowded. Customers may have to wait for the next train. The LIRR will make every effort to add additional trains whenever possible.

LIRR Fare Policy During Hurricane Sandy Recovery Period
Off Peak fares will be in effect on all LIRR trains until full service is restored. No onboard penalty fares will be charged. All LIRR customers are advised to hold onto their current monthly and weekly tickets; they will remain valid for travel through Monday, November 5.

For More Information
The LIRR will provide Service Advisories around the clock, as required. Customers should monitor news reports, the MTA website, www.mta.info, and sign up for free E-Alerts for updates on LIRR service. Customers can also contact the LIRR's Travel Information Center by calling 511, the New York State Travel Information Line, and say: Long Island Rail Road. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider for the free 711 relay to reach LIRR at 511.

METRO-NORTH LIMITED SERVICE RESTORED

Starting Thursday, November 1, close to regularly scheduled service will be provided on the Harlem Line between Mount Kisco and Grand Central Terminal and on the New Haven Line between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal. This will provide service to about half the customers usually served on a weekday.

Hudson Line service will remain suspended due to extensive storm damage.
Service on the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley Lines, which are operated by NJ TRANSIT, remains suspended. NJT continues to work toward service restoration. See www.njtransit.com for updates.

Hudson and West-of-Hudson tickets will be honored on Harlem Line trains.
Customers should expect crowded trains. Parking will be limited. Because not all tracks have been returned to service, bridgeplates may be used to board trains at some New Haven Line stations. Customers should use caution getting on and off trains. In addition, power has not been restored to all station platforms. Generators are in place to provide lighting. Not all ticket vending machines will be operational.
In addition, customers should be aware that there is no subway service south of 42nd Street. Customers can take the following buses downtown: M5 at Fifth Ave. and West 42nd Street; M15 at Second Ave. and E. 42nd Street; and the M103 at Lexington Avenue and E. 42nd St. See http://www.mta.info/status/1 for more information on subway and bus service.

All Metro-North customers should hold onto their October monthly and weekly tickets; they will be valid for travel through Monday, November 5.

Before service can be restored to other areas of the railroad, there are a number of challenges that must be addressed.

The right-of-way on the Upper Harlem Line to Wassaic has been cleared of trees but two critical substations near Bedford Hills and Katonah were flooded and are not operating. We are working with the power supplier, New York State Electric and Gas Company, to get these critical substations on line as soon as possible.

Damage on the New Haven Line between Stamford and New Haven remains significant. Numerous trees have to be removed and catenary and signal wire has to be rehung in numerous sections along the route. All the controls for moveable bridges were submerged during the storm; they must be fully inspected and repairs made. Additionally, there is significant catenary damage at a critical switching location in the area of Fairfield. Service also remains suspended on all three branch lines, New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury. Work crews still have a tremendous amount of work to do removing trees and restoring power in those areas as well.

The Hudson Line has also been hard hit. It will remain out of service Thursday due to extensive storm-related damage from flooding, fallen trees and power outages.

Major issues include:

There are several water-damaged substations on the Hudson Line.
Washouts that have undermined the track structure so greatly it is unsafe to operate trains across those sections; One section alone between Croton-Harmon and Cortlandt will require up to 8 rail cars of ballast stone to repair;
Third rail damage in several areas caused by fallen trees;
Debris along the right of way still needs to be cleared.

The railroad’s employees will continue to work hard to restore service for all customers as quickly and safely as possible.

Until full service is restored to all lines, customers should expect some delays and crowding on trains and should stagger their travel times.