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'I never saw the tube so quiet'
By 6 a.m., the brave were on their way.
Fintan Lillis had lived in London only a few months and wasn't quite sure Friday how to maneuver to his office, a Web site design business in downtown London, without riding his usual subway line to Edgware Road. But a day after the worst terrorist attack ever in the city center, the young Irishman was learning, as he said, "to get on with it."
"It was strange," the 22-year-old said at Paddington Station after an unusually quiet 20-minute ride from his home in west London. "You could see people looking around a little bit queasy. . . . But in the end, you just had to do it."
London nudged itself into recovery Friday as thousands of commuters kept faith with the capital's network of trains and buses that had been targeted by terrorists a day earlier.
London's subway system was shuttered for a day after rush-hour bombs blasted three trains and a bus Thursday morning, killing dozens of people. By dawn Friday, the subway system--known as the Underground or the tube--reopened with some lines fully operating and even damaged lines open to some traffic.
London's bus system was running at full speed much of the day. Many buses rumbled along with only a few passengers.
Rail lines beyond London also were on schedule, although ridership appeared low. Paddington Station buzzed with travelers even as several Underground stations, including Edgware Road, remained closed.
King's Cross Station, where rescue workers still were trying to recover bodies in shattered subway lines, was an awkward junction for service and suffering. Travelers lugging backpacks and suitcases emerged from trains to pass by groups of mourners.
All day, people stopped at the station's entrance to lay roses, orchids and tulips in sympathy for the victims.
"I never saw the tube so quiet," said Sharon Smith, a worker at St. Mary's Hospital who strode down a hallway leading from the nearby Bakerloo Line. A day earlier she had seen dozens of bleeding and burned subway riders stream into the St. Mary's emergency room.
Smith said the memory wasn't far from her mind Friday morning. She could only imagine what other people were thinking. No one exchanged as much as a word in her carriage, she said.
"At every stop, everyone looked at everyone who got on board. You could feel the tension," Smith said.
Karina Hamid, a mother of two, always rode the No. 36 bus from her home in Wembley to see her 5-year-old son, Ali, off to school. Friday, she was waiting in line with a bit of a grimace.
"What else can we do?" Hamid said, pointing out that millions of Londoners rely on public transportation. "I have to ride. There is no other way for me to get around."
Hamid moved to London from her native Algeria eight years ago. She said she has fallen in love with Britain and the bombings fill her with dread.
"We had bad times in Algeria. We know bombs," she said, dropping her voice too low for her son to hear. "It would be horrible if the same things happened to London." As traffic edged by, Hamid nodded at her son. "Look at how innocent. He was asking me yesterday, `What is a bomb, Mama?'"
Maria Darnell had walked 4 miles to her home Thursday night rather than risk riding a bus from the clothing shop she manages in the West Side neighborhood of Turnham Green. A little after 8 a.m. Friday, the 33-year-old gulped some coffee outside Paddington Station while deciding whether she was going underground or heading toward the bus stop.
Darnell said she preferred riding buses and traveling above ground in London, but buses no longer hold a special appeal.
"You just can't predict anything anymore," she said. "Everyone knew it would happen one day but . . . I always liked the bus. For safety. For comfort. And now terrorists hit that too."
Still, Darnell said, she was relieved to see police so visible in the stations and streets.
"I feel safe. Look, there are so many police around," she said. "But I'll tell you what I really wish I had: a bike."