NEW YORK (AP) -- Subways started rolling in much of New York City today for the first time since Superstorm Sandy crippled the nation's largest transit system. Traffic crawled over bridges, where police enforced mandatory carpooling.
Ridership was light in the morning, and the trains couldn't take some New Yorkers where they needed to go. There were no trains in downtown Manhattan and other hard-hit parts of the city, and people had to switch to buses.
People were grateful anyway. Ronnie Abraham was waiting at Penn Station for a train to Harlem, a trip that takes 20 minutes by subway and 2 1/2 hours on city buses that have been overwhelmed since resuming service Tuesday.
"It's the lifeline of the city," Abraham said. "It can't get much better than this."
Other New Yorkers, without power for a third full day and growing dispirited, decided to flee the city. They worried about food and water and, in some cases, their own safety.
"It's dirty, and it's getting a little crazy down there," said Michael Tomeo, who boarded a bus to Philadelphia with his 4-year-old son. "It just feels like you wouldn't want to be out at night. Everything's pitch dark. I'm tired of it, big time."
Rima Finzi-Strauss was taking a bus to Washington. When the power went out Monday night in her apartment building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, it also disabled the electric locks on the front door, she said.
"We had three guys sitting out in the lobby last night with candlelight, and very threatening folks were passing by in the pitch black," she said. "And everyone's leaving. That makes it worse."
After reopening airports, theaters and the stock exchange, city officials hoped the subway would ease the gridlock that had paralyzed the city, forcing cars and pedestrians to inch through crowded streets without working stoplights.
Television footage today showed heavy traffic coming into Manhattan as police turned away cars that carried fewer than three people, a rule meant to ease congestion.
Flights took off and landed today at LaGuardia Airport, the last of the three major New York-area airports to reopen since the storm, which killed more than 70 people across the Northeast and left millions without power.
Across the region, people stricken by the storm pulled together, providing comfort to those left homeless and offering hot showers and electrical outlets for charging cellphones to those without power.