Commuters wait for the A train at Penn Station in New York. (Allison Joyce / Getty Images )
NEW YORK -- Commuters were forced to improvise Monday to get to jobs, medical appointments and school on the first real workday following super storm Sandy’s crippling effects on the region.
Some New Yorkers rolled out of bed earlier — and others much later — to secure a spot on a train that took longer than usual. Others squeezed into packed buses they’d never taken before. A few traveled miles in plummeting temperatures to make a transit connection — all in an attempt to return to something of a normal life.
It normally takes Rabbi Nahum Marcus about an hour to get from home in Cedarhurst to his teaching job in Brooklyn. He needed 2½ hours Monday and a multitude of connections, chasing after crowded trains to make it to work.
FULL COVERAGE: East Coast hit by deadly storm
“Not fun,” Marcus said before he dashed off to yet another train. “I don’t know how it will be getting back home.”
Amanda Rogers left home in West Orange, N.J., at 10:15 a.m., hoping to get to her job as a broadcast coordinator across the Hudson River in Manhattan by noon. It didn’t happen.
At 12:15, she stood in front of a display screen at New York’s Pennsylvania Station. It showed a delay on her subway line.
PHOTOS: Hurricane Sandy devastation
“I really can’t take another week off work,” she said. “I’m really needed in my department.”
Reagan Stone tried to avoid the crowds and delays. She left her home in Long Island at 10 a.m. to get to her voice teaching job and an early-afternoon medical appointment in Manhattan.
Stone, who is visually impaired, said fewer people crowded Penn Station, making it easier for her to get around with her walking stick.
“Normally there are just hordes of people moving through here,” she said before getting on a train headed toward downtown.
Some commuters didn’t mind the long waits as long as trains were operating.
Burke Williams, a 46-year-old porter, said his 9 a.m. train from Brooklyn was 15 minutes late, making him tardy to work.
“But it’s moving. At least it’s moving,” Williams said.
Veronica Barrera, a 21-year-old makeup artist, used her iPhone to get the latest on the delays. She said her train in from Long Island usually takes 40 minutes at most.
“Right now it was an hour and the subways are crazy too,” she said.
Barrera, who has ridden buses since the storm, wondered how she’d get home. Leaving early isn’t an option since she attends Hunter College in Manhattan and work is busy. Still, she said, there’s an upside.
“I learned a lot about the bus scene and finding out how to do it,” she said. “I’m getting to really like them.”
Barrera considered asking her father for a ride into Manhattan. She changed her mind when he reminded her of the gas shortage. She was reminded again when she stepped out of her home.