Summer Storms were a Climate Change Wake-up Call for Subways

By Philip Marcelo and David Porter.

NEW YORK (AP) — When the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped record-breaking rain on the East Coast this month, staircases into New York City’s subway tunnels turned into waterfalls and train tracks became canals.

In Philadelphia, a commuter line along the Schuylkill River was washed out for miles, and the nation’s busiest rail line, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor running from Boston to Washington, was shut down for an entire day.

Nearly a decade after Superstorm Sandy spurred billions of dollars in investment in coastal flooding protection up and down the East Coast — some of which remains unfinished — Hurricane Ida and other storms this summer provided a stark reminder that more needs to be done — and quickly — as climate change brings stronger, more unpredictable weather to a region with some of the nation’s oldest and busiest transit systems, say transit experts and officials.

“This is our moment to make sure our transit system is prepared,” said Sanjay Seth, Boston’s “climate resilience” program manager. “There’s a lot that we need to do in the next 10 years, and we have to do it right. There’s no need to build it twice.”