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Limited Mass Transit, HOV Restrictions Begin As Sandy Outages Persist

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The city's mass transit system is slowly coming back online with limited service and HOV restrictions in place in Manhattan, as city, state and federal officials focus on providing much-needed relief and supplies to the areas hardest hit by the storm.

Update: If you or some you know is need of food, water or other emergency assistance, please call 311. Visit nyc.gov for a list of NYC food and water distribution locations.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority began offering limited subway and commuter rail service Thursday morning as Consolidated Edison crews continue to work around the clock to restore power to thousands still in the dark.

View a full list of restored transit service.

Con Ed officials said Thursday that they expect to have power restored to all of Manhattan by Saturday, while customers with overhead power lines in the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn would see their electricity restored within a week to 10 days.

As of Thursday night, more than 450,000 customers were still without power across the five boroughs.

In an effort to reduce resulting traffic congestion, Bloomberg announced High Occupancy Vehicle restrictions Wednesday on all four East River bridges and major roadways, beginning on Thursday and Friday.


From 6 a.m. until midnight on Thursday and Friday, vehicles traveling into Manhattan must have at least three occupants.

The measure also includes the Robert F. Kennedy-Triborough and Henry Hudson Bridges as well as the Lincoln Tunnel.

Only the George Washington Bridge is exempt from these restrictions.

All taxis, liveries, black cars and other TLC-licensed vehicles are exempt from the HOV restrictions.


Commercial, emergency and paratransit vehicles are also exempt.

Heavy delays were being reported during the morning rush along the affected crossings.

In addition to long waits at the city's crossings, many drivers are struggling to find gas stations across the city. Additionally, those who are able to find stations with a supply are having to wait on long lines.

According to AAA, the short gas supply is the result of tankers and barges not being allowed into the Port of New York over debris concerns. However, Senator Charles Schumer on Thursday announced the port has reopened, meaning fuel ships will now be able to make the much needed deliveries.

"I would hope within a day or two, because once these tankers get through into the harbor, it's a quick root for the trucks even with all the traffic to get to the gas stations and fill them up so that should help and help quickly," Schumer said.

AAA notes that while supplies are restored, many gas stations in the hardest hit areas remain without power.

The Long Island Rail Road is running limited hourly service to Penn Station along the Ronkonkoma line and from Great Neck to Penn Station along the Port Washington line.

Metro-North's Harlem line will have regular service from Mount Kisco to Grand Central Terminal as well on the New Haven line from Stamford, Ct. to Grand Central Terminal.

Buses, meantime, are running on the weekday-school closed schedule, with reroutes where necessary.

The limited subway service between Brooklyn and Manhattan is being supplemented by a "bus bridge".

Lhota said Wednesday night that 330 buses will be used to shuttle commuters from Jay Street-Metrotech, Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center and Hewes Street in Williamsburg to Lexington Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, via Third Avenue.

Lines for the shuttle buses were long during Thursday morning's commute and were expected to be the same for the evening rush.

The subway service on Manhattan's East Side will terminate at Grand Central-42nd Street, while service on the West Side will end at 34th Street.

The 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, A, D, F, J, L, M, N, R and Times Square shuttle lines will offer limited service.

Customers are being urged to remain patient and to expect crowded buses, subway and rail cars.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says three of the seven tunnels used by the MTA are free of water after being pumped out.

MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota said the MTA's expectation is to come back with more and more service as the days go on.

The city is also working with the MTA to establish bus lanes on key corridors.

There are some changes to service in areas battered by Sandy, including the Rockaways in Queens, Manhattan Beach and Sea Gate and Brooklyn, and along Father Capodanno Boulevard on Staten Island.

Express buses are using streets instead of flooded tunnels, which is creating a slowdown.

The MTA says Sandy was the most devastating disaster in its 108-year history.

Staten Island Ferry service remains suspended but is expected to be fully operational by Saturday.

PATH train service is suspended until further notice.

Greyhound bus service resumed out of Port Authority Bus Terminal on Thursday.

Limited NY Waterway East River and Hudson River ferry service resumed Thursday.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of Thursday's transit options.

While the MTA struggles to restore mass transit service, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is allowing ride sharing in cabs to help people get where they’re going.

These are the rules:

- Taxi drivers can pick up additional passengers even while someone is already in the cab.

- The person or people who got in first will pay the fare on the meter at the end of the ride, even if the taxi detours to drop off the extra passenger or passengers.

- The additional pickup will have to negotiate their fare with the driver, who has to say upfront what he or she wants.

- The TLC recommends a fare of $10 for each additional passenger who joins a trip already underway.

Livery cabs, black cars and luxury limousines will be allowed to pick up street hails anywhere in the city for now. The driver has to quote the fare upfront, although it’s open to negotiation.

The TLC is recommending a fare of $15 for trips within Manhattan above or below 96th Street or within another borough, and $25 for trips crossing 96th Street in Manhattan or crossing from one borough to another.

Alternate-side parking and meter regulations are suspended citywide Thursday and garbage pick-up is still suspended.

In a Wednesday night press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he declared a transportation emergency, meaning fares for commuter rails, subways and buses will be waived Thursday and Friday.

Bridges/Tunnels

The Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough), Verrazano-Narrows, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck and Henry Hudson Bridges reopened at noon Tuesday.

The Outerbridge Crossing, George Washington, Goethals and Bayonne bridges and all East River Bridges are open. All East River Bridges are also open to traffic.

The Lincoln Tunnel is open, but vehicles with less than three cars will not be allowed to enter Manhattan through the tunnel between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight.

The Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridge is open. The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge remains closed.

The Hugh Carey (Brooklyn Battery) Tunnel, Holland Tunnel and Queens Midtown Tunnel remain closed.

Lhota said in a statement Tuesday night that the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel was filled with 43 million gallons of water.

Airports

All three of the area's major airports are back open, but airlines are only providing limited service.

Port Authority officials say service at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark will pick up as the day goes on.

Passengers should check with their carrier before heading out the door.

At one point, LaGuardia runways were under several feet of water.

AirTrain JFK has resumed limited service and AirTrain Newark has full service.

Con Ed Power Outages, Ice Distribution

Consolidated Edison says it has restored two power networks, but there are still more than 450,000 customers without power throughout the five boroughs.

Monday's substation fire on East 14th Street has still left hundreds of thousands of customers in the dark in Manhattan from the southern tip up to West 30th Street on the west side and to East 39th Street on the east side.

Con Ed officials said they restored their network in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn Wednesday afternoon, hours after the utility also restored the Cortlandt network Wednesday morning.

Of the approximately 2,000 customers served on the Cortlandt network in Lower Manhattan, which runs from the southern tip to West Street, Con Ed says all customers have been restored except for customers with flooded basements.

The utility estimates the rest of the underground system in Manhattan should be restored sometime by early Saturday.

Customers with overhead wires in the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn may be looking at a week to 10 days.

As of approximately 5 p.m. Thursday, the utility was reporting 35,161 customer outages in the Bronx; 51,503 in Brooklyn; 92,368 in Queens; 227,529 in Manhattan; and 69,444 on Staten Island. Because each customer represents a household, building or business, the total number of affected people is much higher.

At one point Tuesday night, there were more than 650,000 customers without power across the city.

There are 59 New York City Housing Authority developments without power, and most of them are in the city's low-lying Zone A.

However, Bloomberg said that Con Ed has already brought three Staten Island substations back online to help restore power to that borough. He added that Con Ed was bringing in utility employees from other states to help with the repair efforts.

Con Ed officials continue to request that residents avoid downed power lines in their area.

To report a power outage, call 1-800-75-ConEd or log on to coned.com.

Rescue & Recovery

As of Thursday afternoon, city officials have confirmed at least 37 deaths caused by Sandy.

Bloomberg said the storm caused 23 serious fires, including one in Breezy Point that destroyed between 80 and 100 houses.

First responders are still carrying out search and rescue missions in some of the areas of the city hardest hit by the storm surge.

Of the 34 deaths confirmed by police on Wednesday, details were released about six deaths in Queens, 10 deaths in Staten Island and two deaths in Manhattan.

At least 11 people are reported dead on Staten Island, including two young boys who were swept away in the surge as well as an off-duty police officer who drowned after rescuing his family from rising waters in his South Beach home.

The most severe damage from the storm is being reported in and around the city's low-lying areas, especially the Rockaways and on Staten Island.

Bloomberg says the city's 76 shelters are being consolidated down to 15.

Department of Buildings inspectors are roving through Zone A areas to asses the structural integrity of homes.

That needs to happen before the evacuation order will be lifted for those areas.

Inspections are happening in Lower Manhattan, the Rockaways, and on Staten Island.

Buildings will be tagged with a placard: Green means the building is safe to enter; Red means the building is not safe and may not be entered; and Yellow means the building can be occupied conditionally i.e. one floor may be safe but another is not.

The conditions will be explained on the placard.

Inspections of the Staten Island Zone A buildings are scheduled to be complete by the end of the weekend.

Meantime, looting has become an issue in parts of the city.

Police say 15 people in Queens are accused of ransacking various businesses in the Rockaways.

The Queens District Attorney says they face several charges, including burglary and possession of stolen property, for allegedly breaking into clothing stores, gas stations and a Radio Shack.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, police say more than a dozen people were arrested in Coney Island alone for looting.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is calling for increased National Guard presence. He says first responders, including the FDNY and NYPD, are overwhelmed. But Mayor Bloomberg denied the need for greater presence.

"We appreciate the help," Bloomberg said. "The National Guard has been helpful, but the NYPD is the only people we want on the streets with guns, and we don't need it. There's been one or two minor outbreakings, disgraceful though they may be, of looting reported in the paper, but the vast bulk of people are doing the right thing."

The mayor adds there are police forces across New York State that need the help of the National Guard more than the city does.

Health & Hospitals

According to the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, storm damage, power outages and flooding forced the evacuations of Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and Coney Island in Brooklyn, and those patients were brought to neighboring facilities.

By Thursday afternoon, the last of the roughly 700 patients at Bellevue who needed to be evacuated were waiting for transfer to other facilities.

HHC officials say the flooding damage to Bellevue is significant and it could take up to two to three weeks to reopen.

Among the storm's effects, Bloomberg said that the backup power at NYU Langone Medical center had failed and that 215 patients were successfully moved to nearby facilities late Monday.

In a Wednesday statement, NYU Langone Medical officials said it was too early to tell when they could offer in-patient services but off-site medical offices are expected to open on Monday.

Officials said that Coney Island Hospital had no power as of 1:30 a.m. Tuesday but was not evacuating because critical patients were moved out before the storm.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared a public health emergency Wednesday for New York in the aftermath of Sandy.

The HHS says that nine disaster medical assistance teams, a team of U.S. Public Health Service officers and caches of medical supplies are beginning to provide care in shelters in the New York City area Wednesday. Additional teams and federal medical stations are en route to New York at the state’s request to support medical needs in New York City, according to the HHS.

The Department of Environmental Protection says the city's water supply is safe to drink, and that extra chlorine has been added to the water.

However, the city Department of Health says that New Yorkers should avoid swimming, boating or coming into direct contact with the Hudson River, East River, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Kill Van Kull until further notice.

Aid & Relief

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the National Guard along with FEMA will deliver one million meals and bottled water to New Yorkers in areas affected by the storm.

Deliveries are set to begin immediately to parts of Lower Manhattan, affected areas in Brooklyn and Queens, including the Rockaways will start today.

The governor on Wednesday said that the state was getting reports of senior citizens and people in public housing running out of food.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster exists in New York, making federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Suffolk, and Queens. Cuomo, meanwhile, requested the maximum percentage of federal aid to repair the damage from the storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security will help oversee recovery operations in affected areas.

FEMA says residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.

City residents who left their pets behind during the storm now have a 24-hour hotline they can call for help.

That number is 1-347-573-1561.

The hotline connects the public to the NYC Animal Planning Task Force which includes representatives from the ASPCA, the Mayor's Alliance for Animals, and several other agencies.

The agencies have committed resources that include animal sheltering, veterinary support, and search and rescue.

Displaced residents are allowed to bring pets into city evacuation shelters.

Libraries, Parks & Recreation

Mayor Bloomberg said a majority of the city's parks and playgrounds will reopen Saturday.

As far as the city's zoos, the Wildlife Conservation Society says the Prospect Park Zoo reopened Thursday, the Queens Zoo will reopen Friday, and the Bronx Zoo will reopen Saturday.

The Central Park Zoo remains closed and the New York Aquarium is closed indefinitely.

All branches of the New York Public Library went through Sandy without any damages. Seven of its branches will reopen on Friday: Tottenville, St. George, Todt Hill-Westerleigh and Richmondtown in Staten Island, the Roosevelt Island branch in Manhattan and the Morris Park and Riverdale branches in the Bronx.

To find out if a particular branch is open, visit nypl.org.

Most Brooklyn Public Library locations will be open Thursday, but the following branches will not be open this week: Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Flatlands, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Jamaica Bay, Kensington, McKinley Park and Sheepshead Bay.

Most Queens Library branches, including the Flushing and Central Library branches, will be open Thursday.

Several Queens Library branches are expected to open shortly: Douglaston/Little Neck, Far Rockaway, Far Rockaway Teen Center, Hollis, Howard Beach, Middle Village and Rochdale.

However, four Queens Library branches — Arverne, Broad Channel, Peninsula and Seaside — are closed due to indefinite storm damages.

Carnegie Hall has rescheduled or relocated a lot of its concerts originally scheduled from Friday through Monday. Details and refund policies are available at www.carnegiehall.org.

Also, the National Basketball Association announced Thursday that the game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center that would have been held on Thursday night will be held on Monday, November 26 at 7 p.m.

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