Some Boston Travel Halted, Sports Events Canceled During Manhunt
Mass transportation to and from the Boston area was virtually shut down Friday as police conducted a massive manhunt for a suspect in Monday's Boston Marathon bombing.
The message from Boston transit authorities - shared early in the morning via Twitter - was clear: "Go/stay home."
As the manhunt stretched into the afternoon, Amtrak stopped all trains on the heavily traveled corridor between New York and Boston. Its service from Boston to Maine was also halted. All major intercity bus lines suspended service to the area. Authorities also stopped service on commuter trains into Boston as well as the city's subway - called the T - and the city's buses.
By Friday evening, authorities had lifted the stay-indoors warning for people in the Boston area, and the transit system started running again. People were warned to be vigilant.
Calls to Amtrak were not immediately returned Friday evening following the lifting of the warning.
Greyhound spokesman Timothy Stokes said that the company's regular bus service resumed late Friday in Boston. Express bus service on the New York City to Boston route will resume at 2 a.m. Saturday, he said.
Only air travel functioned normally throughout Friday. Planes took off and landed mostly on schedule at Logan International, although passengers entering the airport drew extra scrutiny from state police.
All major highways in the region remained open except in Watertown, Mass., the center of the manhunt. But they - and most city streets - remained eerily empty as people heeded the government's advice and stayed home.
"I'm just like everybody else in greater Boston, just staying at home, glued to the television," said Bob Trane, an elected alderman in Somerville, Mass., a densely populated city minutes from downtown Boston. "There is nobody out in the streets, very few cars, very few people walking."
Elsewhere, travelers scrambled to find a way home.
Stranded by the Amtrak shutdown, the Rev. Victoria Weinstein passed the time with a beer in a New York bar. She weighed her options for getting home to a Boston suburb.
"I have my Plan A, B, C, and D," she said. There were rides with friends, family or waiting a day. She even considering hitching a ride with a stranger from New England she met at the bar.
"I really just want to be home with my community," said Weinstein, a Unitarian Universalist pastor. "I'm just thinking about all the people whose hearts are broken."
MegaBus, which canceled 35 trips to and from Boston Friday - affecting about 2,500 passengers - said it will also cancel its 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. trips out of Boston Saturday.
Travelers whose trains or buses were canceled are getting full refunds. All airlines allowed passengers scheduled for Friday to change flights to other days, although policies varied widely. Grace periods ranged from a few days on airlines like American and Delta, while United Airlines is giving passengers up to a year from the date they purchased their tickets to fly.
Passengers trying to leave Boston by air were met by Massachusetts State Police searching vehicles at entrances to Logan. The airport handles about 1,000 flights a day and has been operating at a heightened level of security since Monday's attack, according to Matthew Brelis, director of media relations for MassPort, the public agency that runs Logan.
Government officials refused to say why flying was the only form of mass transit allowed.
But airports are a very different environment than bus or train stations. Every person and piece of luggage moving through an airport goes through a security screening. Each passenger's name, date of birth and gender is compared to those on terrorism watch lists. And before boarding a plane out of town, each person must pass through a checkpoint where police have ample time to compare them to photos of suspects.
Friday's manhunt capped off a tiring and emotional week for Boston residents.
"This thing just doesn't stop. It's been constant for the past week," said Ian Deason, director of Boston operations for JetBlue, the largest airline in the city with about 120 daily flights.
He noted that pilots and flight attendants resting in a crew lounge prior to their flights were "glued to the TV."
While Friday's mass transit shut down was unusual it wasn't the first closure.
Boston cut off the T for two days in February. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority shut down all bus and train service ahead of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. New York also shut down its public transportation system in advance of the storms.
New York's subways shut down after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but limited parts were quickly restored. The first subway car ran just 2 hours and 28 minutes after service was halted, although parts of the system took days to resume.
London's July 7 bombings - in which four suicide bombers detonated themselves aboard three trains and a double-decker bus in 2005 - temporarily crippled the European capital's transit system. The next day, the majority of the system reopened.
In Los Angeles, buses, freeways and the airport were shut down following the 1992 riots. Bus service resumed three days later when schools reopened and a dawn-to-dusk curfew was lifted.
Even when Boston's public transportation system starts up again, some Bostonians are likely to change their behavior.
Maria D'Amico, 23, started this week to only sit in the front or back of the subway.
"If anything happened on the train, it would probably happen in the middle," she said.
Back at the airport, passengers had to adapt with no mass transit linking them to the city center. Private cars, taxis and the Logan Express - a bus service to suburban park-and-ride facilities - were still able to enter the airport.
The biggest hassle for travelers was waiting for a taxi. Brelis described the lines as "exceedingly long" during the late morning. Officials were asking people to share cabs to nearby location. The backlog cleared by afternoon.
James Kearney, an information technology consultant from East Amwell, N.J. was in town for business and managed to make it home on a United flight at 10 a.m. He said via email that the 15-mile trip from the Marriott in the western suburb of Newton, Mass. to Logan on the Massachusetts Turnpike "was extremely quiet during rush hour."
Once at the airport, he said, the situation was "pretty standard."
"Even security was fast and uneventful," Kearney wrote.
Kacey Brister, a senior at Louisiana State University, was supposed to have an interview for a public relations job in Boston at 3 p.m. Friday. She was flying on Southwest Airlines from New Orleans to Boston via St. Louis.
Before boarding the last leg of her trip, Brister said that everyone was fairly calm at the gate.
"The biggest concern for most people was how they were going to get from Logan to their hotel, home," she wrote in an email, adding that there was "a sense of camaraderie between passengers."
Not everyone was so calm, however. "My mother has begged me" to turn around, she said.
Sporting Events Canceled
The Red Sox and Bruins postponed their games Friday as authorities searched for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, virtually shutting the city down.
The teams announced about four hours before their night games were scheduled to start that they were scratched.
Police identified two suspects in Monday's explosions that killed three people and wounded more than 180. One man was killed during a shootout with police and the other was being sought in a massive police effort that dragged through the day.
Authorities in Boston suspended all mass transit, used by many fans to get to games, and told people in throughout Boston and some of its suburbs to stay inside for much of Friday as the hunt for Suspect No. 2 went on. Trains were finally allowed to run again after 6 p.m.
No makeup date was announced for the opener of the Red Sox three-game series against the Kansas City Royals scheduled at Fenway Park. Saturday's game, set to start at 1:35 p.m., was still on.
The NHL game at TD Garden between the Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins, two of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, was tentatively rescheduled for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. A final decision on whether it would be played was to be made by four hours before faceoff, the Bruins said. Saturday night's originally scheduled game between the Buffalo Sabres and Penguins in Pittsburgh was rescheduled for Tuesday night.
"We totally understand the situation and (are) respectful of that," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. "Hopefully, (we) have a chance to play tomorrow if that's the case, but, again, the safety of the people of Boston, the city of Boston is most important for everybody."
Capacity at Fenway Park, about one mile from the finish line, is 37,493 for night games. Capacity at TD Garden is 17,565. With fans advised to stay home and police devoted to the manhunt, the decision to postpone was easy.
Red Sox spokesman Kevin Gregg said the Royals have been in town since Wednesday night and spent their off day in the city on Thursday.
The Royals are staying at the Westin Copley Place hotel, about a block from the marathon finish line.
"We've been told not to go outside. We've been told the hotel has been locked down, although I've seen a handful of people moving around," Royals vice president Mike Swanson said earlier Friday. "The streets are just, wow. It's numbingly quiet for a noon hour in Boston."
The Bruins also announced that the sale of playoff tickets, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Friday, has been put off until 11 a.m. Monday.
The New England Patriots postponed for the second time a news conference with director of player personnel Nick Caserio about next week's NFL draft. The news conference originally had been scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed after the bombings. It has been rescheduled for Monday.
The suspension of Amtrak train service forced the New England Revolution to change plans and travel by bus Friday morning to their game against the New York Red Bulls scheduled Saturday night at Red Bull Stadium in Harrison, N.J.
Boston College canceled all home athletic events for Saturday, including the annual spring football game.
Also postponed was the National Women's Soccer League game on Saturday between the Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan. No makeup date was announced. The decision was based on "increased security measures that have impacted travel from the area," NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said.
The league also said it would conduct a moment of silence before the national anthem at two games this weekend.
Even before the manhunt, the bombings resulted in two major pro sports games in Boston being scratched - the Bruins against the Ottawa Senators last Monday night and the Indiana Pacers against the Celtics on Tuesday night. The Bruins game was rescheduled for April 28. The Celtics game was canceled outright, and the NBA's regular season ended on Wednesday.
The Celtics are scheduled to begin the first round of the playoffs Saturday in New York against the Knicks.
The Bruins resumed play on Wednesday night amid tightened security at home against the Sabres. Fans were checked with wands and cars were subject to random searches as they entered the TD Garden underground garage.
Before the game, there was a moment of silence, a slideshow of marathon scenes on the video scoreboard above center ice and a stirring rendition of the national anthem, which was started by long-time Bruins vocalist Rene Rancourt. He sang a few lines then gestured for the fans to join in - which they did.
After the game, players gathered at center ice and raised their sticks in a salute to the fans who had chanted "U.S.A." and "We are Boston."
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