Reporting Rich Lamb
NEW YORK (WCBS 880/ CBS 2) — About 100 subway riders refused to leave their train after being ordered off during the massive snowstorm that raged just outside their doors, and Transit Authority spokesman Kevin Ortiz admitted they could have done a better job at communicating with the passengers.
The nightmare commute home began just after midnight on Thursday as riders boarded a Brooklyn-bound D train but were told by subway conductors to exit the train and take the N train bound for Coney Island instead.
The N train finally stopped at the Coney Island station at 2 a.m. and riders were then ordered by the Transit Authority to get off the train. At that point during the snowstorm, no buses were running and riders flatly refused to leave their train cars and huddled for four hours to stay warm.
Passenger Charlie Oliver told CBS 2′s Dave Carlin everyone onboard was beyond furious.
“It was snowing, a snowstorm, 2 in the morning and they just didn’t care,” said Oliver, whose nightmare on the N train was captured on cell phone camera.
“The absolute worst moment was having that engineer look at me and say ‘it’s not my job. I don’t care. Get off the train,’” Oliver said.
“I think we could have done a better job of communicating with the passengers explaining exactly why we initially we wanted them to disembark and exit the train,” Ortiz said.
Her misery began in Manhattan. There was confusion as riders were transferred from D and Q trains on to the fateful N train, with a sudden route change to Coney Island. They were promised from there they could double back to their stops.
But that never happened.
At Coney Island station riders were shocked to learn they were at the end of the line. Service was suspended and that’s not all: They’d have to find their own ways home at the height of the storm.
“I said what do you want us to do and he said take a cab,” Oliver said. “We’re very vocal. Are you crazy? Would you treat your mother this way? We argued him down.”
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The MTA told WCBS 880′ Lamb they wanted to use the equipment to keep the tracks clear, but they didn’t tell the passengers.
Council Transportation Chair James Vacca said the incident concerns him greatly. The MTA needs a better emergency preparedness plan, said Vacca.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio blasted the MTA.
“Absolutely unacceptable,” de Blasio said. “If you tell people, hey we’re gonna take you somewhere and that’s how you’re gonna get home and then suddenly you say no we’re not going to after all that is absolutely unfair.”
He said riders and politicians must keep pressure on the MTA to have a new plan to make sure all stranded riders are quickly rescued, kept in the loop, and out of the cold.
This isn’t the first time subway riders have been stranded during a snowstorm. During the Dec. 26 blizzard, hundreds were stuck for hours on an above-ground A train.
Stranded passengers are not exclusive to the MTA, during last month’s blizzard 50 bus riders were stranded in New Jersey.
What would you have done if you were on the train? Comment below!