With subway down, NYers weigh commuting options

August 28, 2011 - 7:20 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — With New York City's transit system immobilized by Tropical Storm Irene, New Yorkers were wondering Sunday how they would get around when the work week begins.

On any given week day, New York City's subways cart about 5 million people. And for residents of the far-flung neighborhoods of the outer boroughs — many of whom don't own cars — no trains often means no easy way to get to work.

"This could be one of those days as a New Yorker where you just have to suck it up," said Domingo Diaz, 24, who lives in Brooklyn but works in SoHo.

Diaz was asking a few of the neighborhood car service drivers what they planned to charge to take people into Manhattan on Monday. One quoted him a price of $65, which is at least $20 more than the usual rate.

He said the decision to stop the subways as the storm approached was "the smart call," but he was baffled over why they were still not running hours later.

Transit officials shut down the city's subways, commuter rail, and buses on Saturday as Irene churned toward the city with hurricane strength. They wanted to minimize the damage to the nation's largest public transit system.

By Sunday afternoon, limited bus service was to be restored, first in Manhattan and the Bronx then in Queens and Brooklyn. Staten Island was still on its own.

To get the subways running again, inspectors planned to walk all 800 miles of track, looking for damage to rails, switches and power sources, the transit agency said. Then they will test the tracks by running trains on them. Floodwater also will have to be pumped from train yards and other spots.

Officials didn't know if they could get the system fully functioning for Monday morning's commute.

Carole Ryavec, a resident of the Upper East Side, came out for a stroll through Central Park when the worst was over early Sunday afternoon. City workers were busy cleaning up fallen trees and debris.

"Of course we dodged a bullet!" said Ryavec. "We were darned lucky that the winds decreased."

Ryavec said the subway is her main mode of transportation to her job in Brooklyn, where she is a contracts consultant for the city's Department of Education.

From the looks of things, she figured, she won't be going to work.

"It can't happen without the subway," she said.