Although tropical storm Irene caused serious damage upstate, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and parts of New England, New York City was largely spared. But not financially—the storm is estimated to have cost the city $55 million, and the MTA incurred roughly $110 million in storm-related expenses. According to figures obtained by the Post, that total includes $10 million spent on shuttle buses for ferry passengers, lost subway and toll fares, and "massive overtime costs incurred in shutting the system down in preparation for the storm." Plus an additional $50 million needed to fix Metro-North’s Port Jervis line.
Metro-North president Howard Permut tells the Wall Street Journal the Port Jervis line will not be fully operational until the end of the year, and even then trains won't run at pre-storm frequency until fall of next year. Crews are using 5,000 truckloads of new material to shore up the tracks at over 50 locations where flooding washed away the rock and dirt beneath. These days the commute from Port Jervis sounds like a real blast: commuters can take the train to the Harriman, N.Y., station, where they transfer to a bus to Ramsey, New Jersey, where they transfer once again to NJ Transit trains. The whole tedious process is costing the MTA $10 million.
A section of track along Metro-North Railroad's Port Jervis Line. (MTA/Hilary Ring)
In other Thomas the Traumatized Train news, this weekend Amtrak is beginning years-long project to fully replace track in all four of its East River tunnels. You'll recall that in May, an Amtrak train derailed in one of the East River tunnels due to a broken rail. The track damage resulted in a major disruption of LIRR service for almost a week as Amtrak crews worked around-the-clock to make repairs. At this time, inspectors found significant water drainage issues inside the tunnels.
Amtrak says the work is being done on weekends and promises it will have "little or no impact on LIRR train service, as long as the tunnels are returned to service as planned prior to the start of the morning rush hour on Mondays." But note this: The LIRR will have "less operational flexibility on the routing of weekend trains into and out of Penn Station should an issue develop that would normally result in a train being routed to an alternate tunnel." Well, we certainly hope nothing malfunctions on weekends during the next couple of years, so that Long Islanders like these can continue partying in the city without incident.