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Straphangers Brave The Trip to Manhattan as 'Limited Subways' Return

For many, the trip from Brooklyn to Manhattan via subway and bus could take more than three hours. Meanwhile, bikers had an easier time.

For the first time since Superstorm Sandy derailed New York City Monday, the New York City subways returned Thursday with limited service and New Yorkers were forced to try to get to work.

For those living in Brooklyn, a trip to Manhattan via “limited subway service” Thursday meant a 2- to 3-hour commute involving a train, long wait, and then a shuttle bus to get over the bridge.

Edith Schraemli, a Fort Greene nurse who was planning to volunteer at the Red Cross in Manhattan, arrived at Barclays Center at a little after 7 a.m., the line was so long, she was about to go home. But a driver picked her up and drove her into Manhattan in order to reach the carpool requirement. The drive was fairly fast and Schraemli arrived at the Red Cross offices on West 49th St. and 10th Avenue by 8 a.m.

The way back was a different story. Even though she set out for Brooklyn well before rush hour at 2:45 p.m., the return bus trip was slow and she didn’t arrive back at the Barclays Center until about 5 p.m., she said. 

Millie Sanchez, an accounts payable supervisor, said her trip to the city was easy,  taking only two hours from her Brownsville home to her office at 33rd Street and Lexington Avenue.  When she arrived at the Barclays Center at 6:30 a.m., there were no lines for the shuttle buses, she said.

“Going into the city was fantastic,” she said. Coming home not so much. Sanchez waiting two hours for a shuttle bus at 4:15 p.m. and didn’t arrive at the Barclays Center until after 7 p.m.

On Wednesday, Sanchez got to work by taking the B46 to Williamsburg, walking across the bridge and catching the bus on the other side. That trip took three hours and 15 minutes.

Asked if she would venture back to Manhattan tomorrow, Sanchez’s answer was the same as every other rider interviewed: “I’ve got no choice. I have to.”

While many Brooklynites braved the subways, others took to their bikes. The bike lanes on Bergen Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, which are always busy during the evening rush hour, were packed on Thursday.

Kat Casale, manager of Cycleworks on Vanderbilt Avenue between Bergen and Dean streets, said Wednesday was the shop’s “busiest day by far of the whole year.”

People were in the store buying new bikes, fixing up their old ones and buying accessories, especially lights, she said.

Aaron Israel, a 30-year-old chef who lives in Crown Heights, said he had a lot more company on his trip to Manhattan than usual, with most of the new bicyclists of the “Sunday rider” variety—people who usually ride recreationally, rather than as their primary mode of transportation.  

“They just don’t know what they’re doing,” he said.

But, since a bike trip, even with additional riders, usually takes under an hour from North Brooklyn to Manhattan, about a third of the time many straphangers spent Thursday, perhaps they know exactly what they’re doing.

walester November 02, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Anyone know why the G Train isn't running? It doesn't travel through any of the impacted subway tunnels, and it would help us connect to the subway lines running into Manhattan from Queens.
FRANK TODARO November 02, 2012 at 02:12 PM
There is still power outages in certain areas affecting the MTA. The mayor has said power should be restored by Sunday/Monday, they have made buses available! If you are desperate,lol
Karen November 02, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Why aren't people walking over the bridge instead of waiting for the shuttle bus? I assume some people are doing that? It would probably take less time even to walk up to 34th St. than waiting for the shuttle bus.
Larry November 02, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Karen, some of us have bad knees and walking from Boro Hall to 34th St. is simply not an option at all. Others prefer to wait in line. Which means that when younger people are seated on the shuttle bus and they see older people standing, they should ask the older person if they would like a seat. A young black man with dreadlocks covered by one of those bouffants did so for me in the morning and it was a godsend. May God send him copious blessings and lots of love! The white young hipsters on the return trip were not so accommodating. I know my children were raised right; where were your parents?? (I am a white man.) I must say, difficult though it was to travel 3 1/2 hours each way to work, kudos to the MTA for getting it together. Could use more buses though, and a little better line policing.

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