New York's subway system, a crucial lifeline for the city, resumed limited service on Thursday after three days of closure in the wake of superstorm Sandy, providing some relief to thousands of commuters.
The city's mass transit authority said 14 of the 26 subway lines will begin operating on Thursday even as uncertainty loomed over the full restoration of service, which officials said could take days.
With tunnels still flooded and power outages yet to be fixed in lower Manhattan, subways and trains going into the area remained suspended.
The New York City subway system is the lifeline for about 8.7 million people who use the public transport to get to work daily.
During the three days that the subway service was suspended, New Yorkers were forced to walk miles and wait in line for hours for buses.
Traffic was moving at a snail's pace on the city's roads as taxis and cars tried to navigate through detours and partially open bridges and tunnels.
In some relief to the commuters, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Metropolitan Transit Authority's subway, bus and commuter rail services will be free for on Thursday and Friday because of the transportation emergency.
"The gridlock we experienced shows that the New York metropolitan region is in a transportation emergency. To get people out of their cars and onto mass transit, I immediately authorise the MTA to suspend transit fares through the end of the work week," Cuomo said
Referring to the system's 8.7 million weekday users, MTA chairman and chief executive officer Joseph Lhota said, "We are going to come back even stronger than we were before, but until we get there I am asking for their patience. For this service to come back, it's basically rail by rail, switch by switch."
With no electricity to power the third rail or to operate signals in downtown Manhattan, there would still be no service in the area and downtown Brooklyn. The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad also began limited service on Wednesday.
MTA said that given the limited service in operation, customers are advised to give themselves extra time for their commute, and if possible change their routine by traveling later in the morning or in the evening.
The PATH train service, which connects New Jersey to New York, still remained suspended till further notice.
A large majority of residents in New Jersey use the train service to get to work in Manhattan.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that he expected PATH trains to be unavailable for at least seven to 10 days as it would take considerable time to drain out the water and restore power to the stations.