[UPDATE BELOW: Lines are long, but moving fast today!] To no one's surprise, after three days of no mass transit due to Hurricane Sandy, there were huge crowds for the "bus bridge" between Brooklyn and Manhattan. With East River subway tunnels flooded, the bus bridge connected the two boroughs for thousands of commuters. But in case you didn't get on one of the lines—Barclays Center, Jay Street and Hewes Street in Brooklyn; various locations in spots in Manhattan (PDF)—check out this 7 minute video of the action around the Barclays Center:
And here's a panoramic image—click it for the jumbo version—of some of those waiting outside:
We stopped by the Barclays Center around 9 a.m. yesterday and found the line pretty unorganized. Most on the line (that wrapped around the new arena) said that they had been waiting for an hour, though one Crown Heights resident said she had been waiting for three hours and an accountant said he was waiting two hours to Midtown Manhattan. A Prospect Heights resident was trying to get her job at an ad agency on 53rd Street—her boss told her to go in because of deadlines. Some people gave up on the line and managed to find livery cabs.
Senator Chuck Schumer was there, trying to cheer up commuters. Fiona Spruill, an editor at the NY Times, Tweeted, "Chaos at Barclays center. Schumer greeting everyone with a smile. No one trying to get on a bus is smiling." On the bus, some early commuters complained it took a while just to get to the Manhattan Bridge, but eventually the police stepped in to give the buses a dedicated lane.
On the Manhattan side, for the evening commute, the lines were just as long. A reader photographed the crowd at Lexington and 54th Street, "Every block has a line around the corner." The MTA's chairman Joe Lhota had asked New Yorkers on Wednesday night to "just bear with us" as the agency contends with unprecedented damage to the 108-year-old subway system—and warned that the improvised mass transit was likely to be crowded. MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz suggested that riders stagger their commutes, either an hour earlier or later, to avoid long waits.
Still, one Brooklyn resident was both frustrated and nostalgic; he told the NY Post after waiting for a while at the Barclays Center, "It’s very hostile waiting in that line. It was overwhelming. I felt like I was in the movie ‘Avatar’ where everyone is waiting to be deported. It’s scary! ... I never knew how crucial the MTA was. I definitely took it for granted. I wish I never complained that they were late before the hurricane. At least they came!"
Well, pray for Con Edison to get power back: Once the utility does, the MTA says it'll take two hours to get the 4/5 and F back up and running between Brooklyn and Manhattan!
Update: Looks like lines are moving better than yesterday, but still really long:
...I thought the line at Barclays Center was unholy, the Metrotech line wins in supreme unholiness. Lines like this should be illegal. #MTA
— Justin Reid (@JReidPhoto) November 2, 2012
— Jeremy B. Merrill (@jeremybmerrill) November 2, 2012
— Daniela (@DeeVine2300) November 2, 2012
At least this line moving faster than the line at the Barclays center yesterday! Thank u @bkalldayjay !!!
— Eyonce (@MissErikaG) November 2, 2012
But let's give credit to the MTA for at least having a way to getting commuters between Brooklyn and Manhattan 24/7—many, if not all of their workers, have been pulling crazy long shifts to make it happen!