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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.

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Only one third of its trains are operational. On Friday, extra NJT buses began shuttling passengers to ferries that cross the Hudson River, after which many commuters have to take the subway, a time-consuming combination.

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The losses from extra commuting time may never be known and are not included in the costs of the physical damage and lost business caused by the storm in the New York area, Pennsylvania, and Washington, which will reach $50 billion, according to Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi


Filolaos Kefalas expects the engineering firm he runs in Bayside, in the borough of Queens, to lose up to 10 percent of revenues over the next two months because of commuter delays and gasoline shortages.

"A couple of my employees, who don't drive, weren't able to get here at all. People are distracted. They've had to move their families to areas with power. And people are leaving early just to get home. We just don't know how long this can go on," he said.

His 15 workers are banding together to try to carpool, including one who dodged the fuel shortages and long lines at service stations by using his hybrid gasoline-electric car. "One of my guys owns a Prius and he's been the star of the office."

Research suggests that even if workers come in early or stay late to spend the same time at work, productivity falls.

Stephen Ross, an economist at the University of Connecticut, said people facing suddenly longer commutes end up doing more personal tasks during work, such as keeping tabs on their kids or paying bills.

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