Less than two weeks after Hurricane Sandy inflicted the worst damage on the New York City subway system in its entire 108-year history, trains are running close to normal in what observers are calling nothing short of a miracle.
The storm surge that flooded seven of 14 subway tunnels, submerged station platforms and destroyed underground equipment at first threatened to paralyze commuter transportation indefinitely. Yet 80 percent of the subway system was restored in less than a week and nearly all of its 842 miles of track are back on line.
“Some of what they’re doing borders on the edge of magic,” Gene Russianoff of the commuter advocacy group Straphangers Campaign told the New York Times.
New York media outlets have marveled at the quick restoration of service. As the Times noted, "nearly everything under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s auspices, from its commuter railroads to its bridges and tunnels, is running close to normal."
But not all. A bridge to the hard-hit Rockaways may take months to rebuild. And the return to normalcy hasn't exactly been normal -- trains have been jammed and long lines have plagued a makeshift Brooklyn-Manhattan bus bridge .
Still, the city is in better shape than outlying areas. PATH train service between Hoboken, N.J. and Manhattan, for instance, remains only partially restored.
While the recovery has gone smoother than expected, there have been bumps, some of them rhetorical.
On Friday, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, the government official who has worked around the clock to get trains back on the track, apologized to Mayor Mike Bloomberg for using profanity in saying Hizzoner acted like an "idiot" in publicly predicting when the Queens-Midtown Tunnel would reopen to commuter traffic.