Monday, August 18, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — Electrically powered commuter trains ran on time, and stoplights kept traffic running smoothly yesterday as millions of people headed back to work for the first time since the big blackout. In Detroit, residents returned to drinking straight from the tap.

Power plants knocked out by the outage were coming back on line, increasing the electricity flow in time for the high-power demand of the start of the workweek.

And relatively cooler weather was forecast, with highs only in the upper 70s over the Northeast and low 80s in parts of the Great Lakes region.

However, utilities in the eight-state region hit by Thursday’s blackout, the largest in U.S. history, said they weren’t out of the woods yet.

New York’s Consolidated Edison asked customers to conserve power during the usual Monday spike in demand. “We’re still stabilizing our system,” spokeswoman Joy Faber said.

The North American Electric Reliability Council announced late Sunday that the power grid was operating reliably again, with all but one transmission line back in service. Spokeswoman Ellen Vancko said yesterday that the council had no updates and no immediate plans to release any updated information.

A reliability council e-mail statement said the grid was expected to operate reliably, barring unforeseen events.

From Michigan to New Jersey, motorists and police reported no power-related problems with the yesterday-morning commute.

NYC Transit officials said subways in the nation’s largest mass-transit system, carrying 5 million riders daily, were running on schedule. Officials of the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road systems serving the suburbs said their trains were running on or close to schedule.

At New York’s Grand Central Terminal, banker Jonathan Greenman said he had a problem-free trip in from Rye, N.Y. “I haven’t been worried since I found out the trains started running again this weekend,” he said. “I feel things are back to normal now.”

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was upbeat.

“The subways are working. The buses are working,” Mr. Bloomberg said on cable news channel NY1. “It’s a Monday morning in New York. That’s what you’d expect.”

Lingering concerns about water safety eased yesterday with the announcement that Detroit residents would no longer be asked to boil their tap water. A similar order in Cleveland was lifted Sunday evening.

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