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Lhota: MTA 'Has Never Faced A Disaster' Like Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York City subway system "has never faced a disaster as devastating" as the damage that was caused by Superstorm Sandy, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joseph Lhota said Tuesday.

Seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded Monday night as an unprecedented 13-foot storm surge cascaded water into lower Manhattan.

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The MTA cut power to some subway stations Monday after water began pouring into stations and tracks.

"Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region," Lhota said.

Metro-North lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line, Lhota said.

There was also a 40-foot boat on the tracks at the Ossining station.

The Long Island Rail Road had to evacuate its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel.

Gushing water flooded the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel "from end to end," Lhota said. The Queens Midtown Tunnel was also flooded and closed.

Six bus garages were disabled by rising water. Fortunately, no buses were damaged. Neither were any subway cars.

Limited bus service will resume at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Officials said they hope to have full bus service up and running by Wednesday. No fares will be charged on buses for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The mayor said New York City taxi drivers will be allowed to pick up multiple fares even while a passenger is in the cab.

The fare for the additional passenger will be negotiated between the driver and the passenger. The driver must quote the fare upfront. The Taxi and Limousine Commissioner recommends a fare of $10 per additional passenger for passengers who join a trip already in progress.

Liveries, black cars and luxury limousines are permitted to accept street-hail passengers anywhere in New York City.

All LIRR service remains suspended Tuesday. Penn Station and Jamaica Station are closed. Metro-North service has also been halted.

MTA officials have said that salt water could corrode the switches and signals in the system and could force the MTA to replace hundreds of pieces of equipment before service can be restored.

"One thing to remember about the New York City subway system is that it's very dynamic. It's very robust. It's not a situation where all of it needs to go up at once or an all or none situation," Lhota said. "We may have lines where we have little to no damage. Those lines will come back before the other lines. So I need New Yorkers to understand this will come back in a way in which it's not all or part."

Lhota said the MTA is now assessing the extent of the damage.

"All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal," Lhota said.

All NJ TRANSIT rail, bus, light rail and Access Link service is suspended until further notice.

All PATH service as well as public and private bus service is also suspended. Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that PATH service will be out at least seven to 10 days.

John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports are all closed, the Port Authority said. Stewart International Airport is open.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said JFK will likely reopen Wednesday. He said LaGuardia has extensive damage and there is no word on when it will be back in service.

Cuomo said all bridges would be opening at noon Tuesday with the exception of the Rockaway bridges.

The Holland Tunnel is closed. The Lincoln Tunnel is open.

The Tappan Zee Bridge reopened at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Officials said local roads in Westchester and Rockland counties may be closed due to flooding or damage.

Meanwhile, Amtrak service remains suspended in the Northeast as crews assess the damage from Sandy.

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