NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than five months after Superstorm Sandy, service to South Ferry has resumed.

No. 1 subway trains began running to and from the old South Ferry station Thursday morning. The newer South Ferry Terminal was heavily damaged in the Oct. 29 storm and extensive repairs are still needed.

Sandy’s storm surge sent some 15 million gallons of salt water into the station. It destroyed all electrical and mechanical systems and blew out a critical connection for commuters — the final stop on the No. 1 train at the southern tip of Manhattan.

As crews continue to work on the damaged terminal, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened the former South Ferry stop. A century old, it was shut down in 2009.

The stop is critical for 10,000 daily users who take the Staten Island Ferry.

“This is a blessing, you guys don’t know,” Bedford Park resident Priscilla Butt said.

“To have something you always had and then all of a sudden you miss it, it’s unbelievable, but thank God it’s back now, we can get back to normal,” said New Dorp resident Billy Mangia.

Interim Executive Director Thomas Prendergast said after looking at the extensive damage to the current stop, “it became clear that the time necessary to repair it would be too long a period to deny our customers a direct link to lower Manhattan.”

Crews scrambled to re-open the old station, installing electrical feeds, security cameras and radio communications to the dispatcher’s office at a cost of $2 million.

Passengers will only be able to board the first five cars because of the size of the old station.

“Originally the trains were only three, four cars long,” said MTA supervisor John Boldt.

The Federal Transit Administration reimbursed MTA New York City Transit for an initial $629,100 of recovery work at the new South Ferry station, which included pumping out water, removing debris, assessing damage and inspecting equipment.

Officials say it could take three years to fully repair the station.

“It’s pretty bad,” said MTA Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer. “It’s going to take a long time to fix and get it right.”

MTA crews are also tackling repairs in the Rockaways, hoping to reopen subway stations there by June.

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