NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Government Kathy Hochul said Monday the New York City subway system failed riders when an “unprecedented” power surge disabled half of the system and forced hundreds to evacuate through dark tunnels.
It started around 8:25 p.m. on Sunday when a citywide power dip of with Edison put the system on emergency power, the governor said.
“The confluence of circumstances, this perfect storm that has formed, has never happened before,” Hochul said.
According to the governor, the backup system first worked when it was activated.
“But when it tried to go back to normal, there was a wave, an unprecedented wave, which caused the metro to lose signaling and communication capability,” Hochul said.
WATCH: Gov. Hochul provides update on metro failure
It affected about half of the system. Hochul said 83 trains on lines 1-7 and the L were temporarily halted. There was no communication facility between the command center and the trains.
Five trains got stuck between stations. Two were evacuated by MTA staff.
“They made us get off the train in the back,” one rider told CBS2.
“We came out and we walked along the side of the tracks,” said another rider. “It was dark. There was no one with flashlights or nothing. I had to use my phone to light the way for my wife and me.”
“It’s like a horror movie, walking in the tunnels, in the dark,” Crown heights resident Assaph Shimon told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.
Two more trains had riders evacuating themselves. They got out and walked alone through the tunnels.
Acting MTA chairman Janno Lieber said that is a dangerous move.
“We really discourage that,” says Lieber. “Not only because it is super unsafe with an active third rail, but also because it is delayed. If that happens, we’ll have to turn off the power to the third rail, and it’ll take much longer for the whole system to reactivate. That’s what happened last night.”
Service has resumed on 1/2/3/4/5/6/L trains with significant delays after a power surge disrupted the connection between the Rail Control Center and our signaling systems.
While the delays continue, consider traveling by letters or buses.https://t.co/jg4z62hGUt
— NYCT Subway. Wear a mask. (@NYCTSubway) August 30, 2021
Rescue teams inspected the tracks around those trains to make sure they were clear before restoring service around 1:30 a.m. Monday.
“Let me be very clear, last night was unacceptable,” Hochul said. “If you are one of those riders or people who rely on safe transport, then the system has let you down.”
The governor ordered a review of the incident.
“Transit workers have done a great job during the emergency, demonstrating once again why you need a fully staffed system, and that includes having both a conductor and a train driver on the train,” Transport Workers Union Local 100 said in a statement. . “Conductors walked through the carriages of jammed trains – urging riders to remain calm and giving them the latest information they had.”
Officials said the subways were running normally on Monday with no residual effects.
Con Edison officials declined our request for an interview but said the problem started with an underground transmission feeder in Long Island City.
Nick Caloway of CBS2 contributed to this report.