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New Yorkers Struggle With Limited Transit Options


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

New Yorkers were ready to get back to work today. Unfortunately, the region's transportation system was not. Commuters to Manhattan overwhelmed the barely operating bus and train system. From Brooklyn, NPR's Robert Smith reports on the resulting long lines and frustration.

ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: There was no good option to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan today, just various flavors of bad. You want to take a train? Sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Ladies and gentlemen, there is no train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

SMITH: The subway tunnels under the river are still choked with water, but the MTA did get a few local trains running. Those trains were packed, and the directions were confusing.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Passengers who have to go towards Brooklyn, get off at 42nd Street Times Square and take the Grand Central Shuttle over to Grand Central tunnel for bus service going into Brooklyn.

SMITH: Ah, the shuttle buses, another tempting choice. In theory, buses were supposed to create connections between the trains and get everyone over the river. But they were mobbed.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: No pushing. One at a time so everybody can get to where they need to be. Please.

SMITH: In downtown Brooklyn, people had to wait an hour to get on them.

CARLYLE TOM: I think I'm probably going to have to forget about this and, you know, maybe go back home.

SMITH: Carlyle Tom(ph) was pretty calm about the whole thing. Most people were. But I saw some other folks try to pry their way into an empty waiting bus.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: No. No, no, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Close that door, sir.

SMITH: OK. What else have you got? A car, say? You just want to drive into Manhattan? Well, there's a big catch to that one too. Starting today, everyone was required to carpool. Still, the traffic was slow. And George Jimenez(ph), he needed two other people to get across the bridge.

GEORGE JIMENEZ: Just horrible, horrible commute. I'm trying to get home. I'm diabetic. I'm almost running out of gas.

SMITH: In the end, the happiest people were the ones who could hoof it. I watched a thick stream of people shuffling over the Brooklyn Bridge. Some of them faced 7-mile walks. And then there were the bikes. Some roads in Brooklyn this morning looked like Amsterdam. Haluke Softie(ph) was headed over the bridge with no real idea of where he was biking.

HALUKE SOFTIE: This is my first time.

SMITH: I'm a little bit worried if everyone out there on bikes, this is their first day.

SOFTIE: Yeah. It's a little harrowing. I think I need to be careful, but I'm taking it slow.

SMITH: Well, so are the cars. You're lucky.

SOFTIE: Right.

SMITH: See, no one was really ready to count themselves as lucky until they made it to work, and then eventually home again. Robert Smith, NPR News, Brooklyn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Robert Smith is a host for NPR's Planet Money where he tells stories about how the global economy is affecting our lives.
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