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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — ubway riders demanding “end this nightmare” said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reached a new low Thursday morning.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, there was pandemonium on platforms, where the masses barely had room to breathe.
The MTA blamed it all on track debris that halted the morning rush – stranding riders and calling major delays.
Platforms were dangerously packed at the 168th Street No. 1 Train station in Washington Heights Throngs of commuters were jammed like sardines and unable to move.
“New York transit, please do better,” commuter Sharon Diane said in video she took during the jam.
Diane to abandon her 1 train and transfer to the A or C. She ended up being more than an hour late to her hospital job.
“How do they expect people to get to work?” Diane said.
“People are pushing and shoving to get on the trains that were working,” said Betzalel Berkman of Washington Heights who was trying to get to his job at a bank downtown when he was forced to transfer and got squeezed in the process. “Over an hour late.”
Children were also late to school.
It all started when debris on the tracks at 50th Street and Seventh Avenue in Midtown brought the morning commute to a halt, leaving many riders stranded on the platform and stuck underground along the Seventh Avenue service corridor – where the No. 1, 2, and 3 trains run.
Riders of the those lines, as well as the No. 4 and 5 lines, dealt with service changes and suspensions for several hours before all train service resumed with extensive delays just after 10 a.m.
“We are not ever satisfied with a morning commute like this,” said MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim.
There were other problems besides the debris. The MTA said an initial investigation showed that suspected splintering on a third rail protection board was also to blame.
Hakim said what the MTA must investigate is whether that protection board covering the electrified third rail was too old, not properly maintained, or both.
The 50th Street station on the No. 1 Train had to close, and the Seventh Avenue Line services were stalled. Afterward, the chaos grew, with riders rushing to transfer getting stuck and elbowed.
The delays came a week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the purchase of new equipment and increased littering fines to combat trash and debris in the city’s subway system which could clog drains and cause track fires.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he fully supports the governor’s plan to raise fines from $50 to $100.
“The NYPD is very ready to play a bigger role in anti-littering efforts in the subways. We will pay for that,” said de Blasio. “And anything related to homeless folks in the subways, if there’s more outreach needed we will do that, we will pay for it.”
But riders who came across crowded stations and platforms Thursday think more needs to be done.
“I think they should have MTA personnel kind of monitoring the platform and if they see trash there they should go and clear it off rather than leaving it there accumulating for a while,” said Washington Heights resident David Kaufman. “If they see you littering they should fine you on the spot, watching and not enforcing anything is I think causing this problem.”
There was more trouble in Queens where switch problems at Queensboro Plaza affected service on the N, Q, R and W lines.
“Today’s subway problems should remind Governor Cuomo that even though school may have started, the summer of hell isn’t over for subway commuters. Once again, equipment failures led to delays, frustration and confusion for New Yorkers trying to get to work,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. “Governor Cuomo produced a short-term plan to address delays, but he now needs to step up with a long-term plan to modernize the transit system and a reliable funding source to make it possible. If the Governor doesn’t follow through on his promises to modernize the transit system, the Summer of Hell could easily become a Decade of Despair for millions of New Yorkers.”
For the latest service updates visit the MTA website.