Can you get to NYC yet? Sort of…

Transportation is still choked, and will be throughout the tri-state area, for some time to come. But for those who commute from Stamford to New York or back, some good news awaits: Metro-North will resume service between Stamford and Manhattan on the New Haven Line starting Thursday morning at 4:43 a.m. That’ll be a big help to the 52 percent of New Haven line commuters who shuttle back and forth between those two cities on a daily basis. All trains that originate in Stamford — NOT trains that would have started in New Haven — will run to NYC as scheduled. Check the MTA web site tonight for updates.

The restoration of service is quicker than many have expected, given the tremendous number of trees down on the New Haven Line and the destruction to the catenary wires — which were already in need of extensive repair before the storm hit. Still, we don’t have a word yet as to when service might be restored for stations North of Stamford, or for the New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury Branch lines.

“We have not had time to focus on [the branch lines] yet,” Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told me this afternoon. The Waterbury and Danbury branches are in “pretty good shape,” she said; New Canaan, not so much: “We took one look at New Canaan and said ‘we can’t do this first.'” There might be some bus service for folks who commute on that line — but no promises yet. Overall, Anders said, she thinks service to the main line could be restored before the weekend. The branch lines may take longer.

Greyhound tells me they don’t expect to be operating tomorrow into New York City, so that’s out. (UPDATE as of 6 p.m. on October 31: Greyhound web site now says limited service to NYC is resuming. But they don’t say much more than that. I’m a bit suspicious).

So if you live in New Haven — how can you get to New York without driving? (PS — Don’t drive. Because of the level of congestion on the streets, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is saying cars with less than three people won’t be allowed to enter Manhattan through most major bridges and tunnels).

Here’s one way. Warning: It’s not fun. But it should get you there. Also, I do not recommend trying to use the TripPlanner on CTTransit’s web site. It’s terrible.

Step 1, New Haven to Milford: Take the “O” bus from the New Haven Green in downtown New Haven, at Chapel and Temple streets. (Schedule here. Click on “O Route 1” schedule.) The first bus, according to the weekday schedule on CTTransit’s web site, is at 5:15 a.m. tomorrow. Buses leave subsequently every 15-30 minutes until 11:20 p.m. The bus will take you to Milford’s Connecticut Post Mall; should take about 40 minutes, depending on traffic.

Step 2, Milford to Norwalk: Buses leave from the mall every 10-20 minutes starting at 5:50 a.m. (Schedules here.) Take the Coastal Link bus all the way over to the last stop, the Norwalk WHEELS Hub. Should take about 2 hours. (I’m not kidding. This is starting to sound daunting).

Step 3, Norwalk to Stamford: Buses leave from Norwalk WHEELS Hub station for Stamford every 15-30 minutes starting at 5:45 a.m. Take the Route 41 bus to Stamford Transportation Center. Takes 40 minutes.  (Bus schedule here: click on the Route 41 schedule.)

Step 4, Stamford to NYC: The first train leaves bright and early at 4:43 a.m.!

So, if you factor in getting to the bus station, waiting for buses, and so on — a really lucky commuter might get from New Haven to New York City in…about 6 hours. On the bright side: It’ll be on the cheap. Bus fare from New Haven is $1.30, and transfers are free!

Oh boy. If anyone has better ideas, let me know. And of course once you get to New York, good luck getting around.

PS — For people in between Milford and Stamford, if you’re near these stops, here’s are some major landmarks where you can jump on one of these bus: Milford Green, Stratford Dock Shopping Center, Bridgeport Bus Terminal, Fairfield Circle (in Fairfield), Post Road and Bulkley Ave. in Westport, Norwalk Community College at Richards Ave. in Norwalk, Darien railroad station, Atlantic Square in Stamford.