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Two weeks after Sandy, commutes still chaotic

Though the subway system has been almost fully restored in New York City, commuters coming from Staten Island and New Jersey still face rail closures and long lines two weeks after hurricane Sandy.

A long line forms at the ferry terminal in Jersey City, N.J., as people commute toward New York City, Nov. 5. Flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy has disrupted mass transportation in the northern New Jersey region, with only partial train service to New York.

Julio Cortez/AP

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For hundreds of thousands of workers in New York City, the commuter chaos wrought by superstorm Sandy nearly two weeks ago transformed the trip to and from work into a grueling adventure.

Many still set off hours earlier than usual or stay at work late to try to avoid excruciatingly long waits at bus stops or to beat the traffic jams. Some carpool. Others bike.

Economists can't put a number on the financial hit caused by the closure of subways, railway lines and other transit services, some of which remain shuttered.

But research by congestion specialists and anecdotal evidence from companies suggests the hit could be significant.

Each hour of time stuck in transit or in traffic generally costs at least $16, according to estimates by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. This is how much people are willing to pay not be at a standstill and does not take into account money wasted on gasoline or wages lost due to lateness.

Data on the extra time spent on commutes after Sandy is not yet available, but people interviewed at train and bus stations last week said their travel times roughly doubled.

Similar estimates emerged from a survey of 315 people by Sarah Kaufman, a researcher at New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.


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