Surging seawater forced ashore by superstorm Sandy flooded seven New York subway tunnels and six bus garages in the worst disaster in the history of city transport, AFP reports citing the network's chief.
"The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," said Joseph Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
"Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots," he said.
The MTA released the statement after Monday's disaster, in which high tides driven onwards by hurricane-force winds flooded a vast swathe of the US East Coast, including lower Manhattan, the heart of New York.
More than half a million households and businesses lost electric power and much of the city's underground mass transit system, which had pre-emptively halted before the floods, filled up with seawater.
"As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line," Lhota's statement said.
"Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery," he warned, without being able to put a timetable on the repairs needed to get the city moving.
"In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal."