Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that residents of the Rockaway Peninsula will be able to use a free rail shuttle service starting at 4 a.m. Tuesday, November 20. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) will operate the service using subway cars that were trucked to the Rockaways after tracks connecting them to the rest of Queens were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The newly-named H train will operate every 15 minutes between the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station and the Beach 90-Holland station, making all intermediate stops using a connection known as the Hammels Wye that is not normally used for service. Stations west of Beach 90-Holland suffered extensive damage to signal systems and cannot yet accommodate passenger service.
The H train will run between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m. daily, leaving time for overnight maintenance and inspection of the line. Rockaways customers who take the H to the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station can use the free shuttle bus from there to the Howard Beach station on the A train, connecting them to the rest of the MTA New York City Transit subway system.
The A train tracks from Howard Beach to the Rockaways were almost completely destroyed by the storm, and replacing them is a tremendous undertaking, Governor Cuomo said. While that work continues, this new shuttle service will help improve travel for people in the Rockaways who are still recovering from Sandys effects.
MTA New York City Transit created the new H shuttle service by loading 20 R-32 subway cars onto flatbed trucks in Ozone Park, Queens, driving them over the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, and placing them back on the rails at the Rockaway Park-Beach 116 station.
Each car is 60 feet long and weighs 80,000 pounds. The transfer operation took place over four nights. Photographs of the transfer operation are available at http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCRHC7X and raw video suitable for broadcast is available at http://youtu.be/MwminkbnAn0.
MTA New York City Transit has responded with unprecedented creativity to restore subway service to Rockaway customers, said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. This partial restoration of service is an important step for the Rockaways, but our work wont be done until the A train is fully restored.