NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The journey home turned violent and chaotic for commuters on the No. 7 train in Queens Monday, and it was not clear whether service would be back to normal before the Tuesday morning rush.

The problems cropped up as the work week started off miserably for many across the Tri-State, as a mixture of snow and freezing rain made for a tough commute. Things did not get better as the night went on.

Service on subways, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North were operating on a regular weekday schedule. Problems were reported on both lines Monday night — the LIRR was completely suspended briefly due to fire activity at Penn Station, and a Metro-North train got stuck for two hours without power or heat Monday evening near Pelham.

But systemwide, 7 train riders fared the worst.

They were stranded for more than two hours after a Manhattan-bound No. 7 train lost power between stations near Queensboro Plaza around 9 a.m. Even in the late night hours, the line remained shut down between Times Square-42nd Street in Manhattan and 74th Street-Broadway in Queens due to ice on the third rail and running rails near Queensboro Plaza.

As the sun set on New York City Monday evening and well afterward, long lines of stranded commuters could still be seen standing in the cold and snow waiting or the shuttle bus at Queensboro Plaza.

As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, mobs of angry people were screaming, yelling, and even kicking the bus as they pushed and shoved their way onto overcrowded shuttle buses at Queensboro Plaza.

“I’ve never seen such mayhem,” one rider said.

Cold and frustrated commuters were at their wits end after waiting nearly two hours for buses, desperate to get home tonight.

According to the NYC Office of Emergency Management, the problems all started when someone dropped an umbrella on the third rail, causing the MTA to shut down service.

“Someone dropped an umbrella on the track, it hit the third rail and cut the service,” OEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito said.

When trains stopped running, icing resulted and caused major delays.

“It was horrible, I was standing the whole time, I have back pain so I was hurting the entire time,” stranded passenger Leo Golas, 30, told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria.

“Trains were sparking, I was a little scared to be honest,” said stranded passenger Candace Addison. “They just should’ve never had the trains running. They put people’s lives in danger.”

The temperature outside was about 30 degrees at the time, but Golas said that wasn’t a problem in his train car.

“Somebody opened the window because it was way too hot, but it was a huge inconvenience,” Golas said.

A rescue train was sent to assist the stranded passengers and the train was pulled into Queensboro Plaza around 11:30 a.m., MTA spokeswoman Amanda Kwan said.

Five No. 7 express trains were stuck behind the stalled train, but they didn’t lose power, according to the MTA. They were taken to a station in Woodside to let passengers off.

Ice buildup on the third rail was the suspected cause, but transit officials were still investigating the outage.

People waiting at Queensboro plaza for shuttle due to limited service on No. 7 line on Feb. 2, 2015 (Credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

People waiting at Queensboro plaza for shuttle due to limited service on No. 7 line on Feb. 2, 2015 (Credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Limited service was restored on the 7 line in both directions between Flushing and 74th Street-Broadway Monday evening, but the service suspension west of 74th Street-Broadway continued, CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.

The limited shuttle bus service was running between Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue and 74th Street-Broadway in both directions.

The Long Island Rail Road is also cross-honoring tickets at Penn Station and the Flushing, Mets-Willets Point, Woodside, and Hunters Point stations.

Pictures posted to social media showed a similar issue for Metro-North commuters on the train that was stalled without heat near Pelham. Trains were not moving after icy conditions on the tracks stopped the New Haven Line heading to Harrison.

The MTA also posted a picture on its Facebook page showing LIRR tracks on fire, a practice that the MTA said is done to keep the switches warm and will hopefully allow them to avoid the fate suffered by other trains.

The MTA uses fire to keep switches warm on LIRR tracks. (Credit: Ninjapito via instagram)

The MTA uses fire to keep switches warm on LIRR tracks. (Credit: Ninjapito via instagram)

Annoyed commuters say there is no excuse.

“What year are we in? 2015? And a little bit of snow and ice and they have to shut down the whole system? Absurd,” Jonathan Dunn said.

CHECK: Tri-State Guide To Planes, Trains & Automobiles

NJ TRANSIT will be cross-honoring tickets throughout the system.

“We’re going to be monitoring how this storm affects our infrastructure,” spokesperson Nancy Snyder told 1010 WINS. “We’re keeping an eye, particularly on the ice, we’re not really sure…how it’s going to play out.”

Customers are advised to allow for some extra travel time.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged commuters to avoid the roads Monday and use mass transit instead. He said the biggest threat is up to a quarter inch of ice on roads.

“We’d want people to be very, very cautious,” he said Sunday.

PHOTOS: Messy Morning Commute

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it is monitoring the storm and is prepared to deploy extra personnel to all of its facilities, which include airports, bridges, tunnels and PATH.

Amtrak canceled four trains operating between New York and Boston during the winter storm. However, it said passengers were accommodated on other, closely scheduled trains. A spokeswoman said the cancellations affected Acela Express and Northeast Regional service operating in both directions Monday between Boston and New York.

The rail service said it will re-evaluate plans as conditions warrant.

Passengers are urged to confirm their train’s status, change their plans or review refund information.

The wintry mess is also causing some cancellations at the New York region’s major airports.

The flight-tracking website reports over 560 cancellations at Newark-Liberty International Airport early Monday morning.

LaGuardia Airport has 325 cancellations and 124 at John F. Kennedy Airport.

Passengers are advised to check with their airline before heading out to the airport.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


Leave a Reply