The latest subway debacle from New York will seem all too familiar to Metro riders.
A Monday evening commuting delay turned into a harrowing experience for hundreds of riders on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who were trapped inside an F Train that stalled in a tunnel near Broadway-Lafayette station.
What’s worse, the train’s air-conditioning system was broken. On some of the cars, the power cut off and the lights went dark. And as time dragged on and the train failed to move, passengers stuck on the packed, sweltering train began to panic.
— Breno de Faria (@AnotherBacon) June 5, 2017
One rider recounted the experience in a Facebook post Monday night.
“As we waited with no further communication, people started getting very worried,” wrote the passenger, Michael Sciaraffo. “Almost everyone began fanning themselves with paper, as it felt as if it was just getting warmer and warmer. Beads of sweat began rolling down people’s faces. We started to tell everyone to open the side windows and open the doors the three inches we could pry it open to, with books, to get the cross ventilation from the passing trains.”
— Brenna Thompson (@brennaleight) June 5, 2017
Sciaraffo wrote that some people were so stifled by the heat that they began to remove their clothes. Riders started to report to one another that they were feeling ill. Passengers began to identify elderly people and pregnant women who needed to sit and drink water.
“Claustrophobia, panic and heat exhaustion began to set in for many folks,” he wrote.
It took about 45 minutes before the stalled train was pushed by another train toward the next platform, according to New York’s ABC7. By that point, the train’s windows had fogged up from the heat. A rider wrote “I WILL SURVIVE!” in the condensation.
— Samantha Mushnick (@SamanthaMush) June 5, 2017
Once the train arrived at the station, riders jammed their fingers between the doors, trying to pry them open wide enough to squeeze their way off and onto the crowded platform.
— Chelsea Lawrence (@chelseahbelle) June 5, 2017
“Finally, they had cleared people off the platform and opened the doors for us to get off,” Sciaraffo wrote. “I never enjoyed the dank, smelly aroma of a train station more in my life.”
MTA officials are investigating the response to the Monday night train breakdown, ABC7 reported. It’s the latest in a series of incidents and commuting meltdowns that have raised serious concerns about the state of the infrastructure on America’s busiest subway system.
The incident also was eerily reminiscent of an incident on Metro more than two years ago, when a train that stalled inside a tunnel near L’Enfant Plaza station during a busy evening commute began to fill with smoke, with hundreds of riders trapped inside.
As the minutes ticked by, the situation transformed from irritating to grave, as riders waited for the train to move out of the tunnel. The situation grew more dire as it became more difficult to breathe. By the time firefighters arrived to evacuate the train, scores of people were suffering from smoke inhalation. One woman, 61-year-old Carol Glover, died of her injuries.
The smoke disaster prompted a federal takeover of safety oversight at Metro, and top-to-bottom soul-searching about the state of the transit system’s infrastructure and safety culture.
For the NYC subway riders Monday, however, the outcome fortunately was far less grave.
— Ilan Moss (@ilanmoss) June 5, 2017
“It was a terrible experience to endure, no doubt,” Sciaraffo wrote in his post. “I am very grateful that despite how terrible this experience was, it wasn’t something more serious, like a terror attack, and that ultimately, we will all be making it home to our families safely.”