Planes Trains & Automobiles
Among the indignities visited on the Rockaways by Hurricane Sandy was the destruction of its sole subway route, the A train. As The Observer first reported, this was not merely a case of flooding, but the very foundations of the Broad Channel crossing washing away, creating months, or longer, of reconstruction work for the MTA.
Still, the agency took the unusual step of trucking a bunch of subway cars out to the Rockaways so it could at least run shuttle service along the peninsula, with a bus in Far Rockaway then ferrying riders to the A train in Howard Beach. The service will be up and running as of 4:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, and Governor Cuomo even announced that it would be free until regular subway service is restored. Free subway service—finally some good news for the Rockaways.
“Millions of New Yorkers have stories” from the hurricane, Council Speaker Christine Quinn declared this morning during a soaring, post-Sandy speech at the Association for a Better New York. Among those stories was Ms. Quinn’s own.
It was an emotional moment that came during what was otherwise a wonky, if powerful, policy-laden address to the city’s business leaders during which the council speaker (and presumptive mayoral candidate) called for at least $20 billion in new infrastructure across the five boroughs to protect against future disasters. The story, from the summers of Ms. Quinn’s youth, underscored her belief that the city must seize upon this disaster to create a stronger (or at least drier) future.
“My grandfather came over on a boat from Ireland with a third grade education and worked his way up through the ranks of the Fire Department,” Ms. Quinn explained. “Rockaway Beach offered him a chance to rent a bungalow in the summer, to afford a little place on the ocean just like the rich people he saw in the magazines. It was his own piece of the American Dream.”
Planes Trains & Automobiles
Update 4:56 p.m.:Governor Cuomo just announced at an afternoon press conference that the A train shuttle in the Rockaways should be up and running by Sunday. He also announced that the N train along the Sea Line, between 59th Street in Sunset Park and Coney Island, resumed service today.
“The damage to the A line in Jamaica Bay is absolutely unprecedented, and so is the MTA’s response,” MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota said. “Restoring the entire A train will take months, but the MTA is committed to doing it and to providing alternatives to our customers in the meantime.”
Original post: The Rockaways have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and that is not just the homes, but the infrastructure, the very fabric of the peninsula. But the city and the MTA have been working nonstop to return life to normal, and that goes for mass transit as well.
The MTA has been working all week to truck subway cars out to the Rockaways from a trestle in Brooklyn so that a shuttle service might be set up between Beach 116th Street and Mott Avenue/Far Rockaway. “We’re going to do what we can to get the Rockaways back to normal,” MTA chief Joe Lhota told reporters over the weekend, when the MTA was putting together its shuttle plan.
The shuttle became a necessity after Hurricane Sandy caused severe damage to the Broad Channel crossing, all but destroying the A train connection between Howard Beach and the Rockaways. The shuttle will help subway riders commute within the Rockaways, but they will still be forced to take a shuttle bus in Far Rockaway to connect to the A train in Queens to get into other parts of the city.
A better option for commuters might be a new ferry service the Bloomberg administration is launching.
A storm from the tropics blew through town last week. It left wintry weather in its wake, along with a path of destruction that has left as many as 40,000 New Yorkers temporarily homeless. Half of them are expected to be unable to go home for weeks or months, assuming they even have homes to return to. Serious damage to heat and electrical infrastructure in apartment buildings and homes on the waterfront are among the most serious issues that have created a housing crisis for the city following Hurricane Sandy.
“Many of the fears we have is that with cold weather coming, we have to make sure people can stay warm,” Mayor Bloomberg said at an afternoon press briefing. “Among the hardest hit are the Rockaways and Staten Island. A lot of places aren’t gonna have electricity but are going to experience the cold. That is the next big problem for us.”
So the mayor announced at today’s Frankenstorm briefing that school is, for now, still in session come Monday, as is work for all government employees. Talk about a bummer. But as a precaution, parks will be closing early, at 5 p.m. Sunday, and events will be over by 2 p.m. Double bummer.
Oh, and the beaches are now closed, so don’t even think about going surfing, dude.
“Let me say something again and again and again—the beaches are dangerous and surfing is extremely dangerous. No surfing, please, tomorrow,” Mayor Bloomberg stressed, perhaps his most emphatic pronouncement during his 20 minute presser.
The Times has been surfing the wave of Rockaways revelry all summer, praising the food, the parties, the sun dresses, the food, and, sure, the surfing. But sometimes life’s not all a beach. The Daily News has turned up at least one stretch of the Rockaways that is far from gentrified.
Things may be jumping over on Beach 96th Street, but Beach 116th Street goes wanting. The clams are still fried and the sun is shining, but an S.R.O. and other rundown properties—and the flotsam and jetsam that wash up with them—is ruining the fun.