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.