NEW YORK — Mass transportation to and from the Boston area was virtually shut down Friday while police engaged in massive manhunt before capturing a suspect in Monday's Boston Marathon bombing. The message from transit authorities — shared 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 also was 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 and buses.
After an intensive search yielded no suspect, authorities lifted the stay-indoors warning Friday evening and the transit system resume running. The suspect later was found hiding in a boat in the backyard of a home in suburban Watertown, Mass.
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 advice to stay home.
“I'm just like everybody else in greater Boston, just staying at home, glued to the television,” said Bob Trane, an 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: rides with friends, family or waiting a day. She even considering hitching a ride with a stranger at the bar.
“I really just want to be home with my community,” the Unitarian Universalist pastor said. “I'm just thinking about all the people whose hearts are broken.”
MegaBus canceled 35 trips to and from Boston Friday, affecting about 2,500 passengers.
Travelers whose trains or buses were canceled got 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 gave 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 two bombs exploded Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, said Matthew Brelis, director of media relations for MassPort, which runs Logan.
While Friday's mass transit shutdown was unusual, it wasn't the first. Boston cut off the subway two days in February. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority cut bus and train service ahead of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.