NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A power outage made for a disastrous commute on the New York City subway system Friday morning, and the effects persisted throughout the evening.

As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the B, D and E train station at 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue reopened late Friday night, after being shut down for nearly 12 hours.

Not only were commuters frustrated, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered an investigation into it all.

On Friday morning, platforms were packed and some riders were stuck underground in the dark as the outage backed up trains all over the city. 

Hundreds of riders were packed inside a D train when it got stuck in a tunnel just short of the subway stop at Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street after the signals lost power around 7:30 a.m.

“It was not comfortable,” one rider told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.

“They were just like we’re going to stay here momentarily because there’s a power outage,” said commuter Max Civil.

That momentary wait turned into about an hour and a half, according to rider Ray Bobcombe.

“I just slept,” he said. “I just put my head down, nothing else to do. Just wait it out.”

An E train had one car already in at the station platform when the outage happened. Riders were able to get out through that car.

One man from Brooklyn told 1010 WINS that his 30-minute commute took two hours and a woman from Queens who was on the stuck E train said her ride was 90 minutes.

Commuters posted pictures and video on Twitter of crowded subway platforms and dark trains.

Police officers redirected subway riders while the power was out, until Con Edison brought in the temporary generator to restore signal power around 11:30 a.m., 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.

Police stand guard outside the Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street subway station. Two trains got stuck in the station during a power outage on April 21, 2017. (credit: Roger Stern/1010 WINS)

MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco said trains had to be rerouted while the signals were down.

“So now you got all of these trains moving at peak hour and you are putting them on to other lines. You are doubling the traffic effectively on the other lines,” DeFalco said. “Think of it like taking traffic from a highway and moving it onto side streets.” 

Hours later, people were greeted by yellow caution tape at 53rd and Seventh.

“Got to work late, and now I’m getting home late,” said commuter Nick Arora of Farmingdale. “What a Friday.”

Elsewhere, people crowded onto platforms – as the outage cut power to signals, escalators, communication, and station lighting.

The outage had a ripple effect throughout the system, with at least 11 lines affected. 

A Con Edison spokesman said one of his electrical lines triggered the outage. CBS2 asked the spokesman why it happened.

“We know that there is some equipment on our side of the street that needs to be repaired. Why it failed, you know, we don’t know yet, but we’ll find out. We have to get to the bottom of what would cause the equipment failure,” spokesman Michael Clendenin told CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco. “Equipment does fail from time to time, and what you have is service lines and fuses and other equipment that serves the city’s subway system – specifically in this case the signals – and it goes through that train station.”

Cuomo was furious about the situation. He has called on the state’s Department of Public Service and the MTA to conduct an investigation.

“Simply put, this was completely unacceptable,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The New York City subway system is the lifeblood of the city and a critical means of transportation for millions of people, which is why we are making unprecedented capital investments into modernizing the system. The MTA will continue to deploy emergency resources to address the short-term issues, and our investigation will address all aspects of today’s events to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Late Friday, everyone was trying their best to navigate home. A street food vendor doubled as a guide for many.

“People asking for directions — that’s it,” the vendor said.

“After a long day’s work, it’s pretty frustrating,” one man said.

B, D and E trains were bypassing Seventh Avenue-53rd Street in both directions, but overall residual delays cleared up in the afternoon.

The Long Island Rail Road was crossing honoring at Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue, Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike, Forest Hills-71st Avenue, 61st Street-Woodside, and 34th Street-Pen Station.

For drivers, 53rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues was also closed.

New York City was not the only city dealing with a mass transit mess Friday. In San Francisco, a power outage forced the closure of a key stop for all mass transit lines coming into the city. It also knocked out traffic lights and cable car lines.

The outages come after an infrastructure report card, released by the American Society of Civil Engineers, gave poor grades to both cities’ mass transit and power systems.

Con Ed now has a temporary service line to get the subway up and running, but said permanent repairs are expected to last through the weekend.

Comments (19)
  1. Lynn Nevins says:

    My biggest beef with the MTA is not that there are often unavoidable problems which are beyond their control. My beef is how the MTA then HANDLES those problems and COMMUNICATES the situation to both their employees throughout the system and to its riders.
    The MTA is very unprofessional and whenever there are problems, it’s The Blind Leading the Blind. Most MTA employees have no clue about current problems occurring within the MTA system. No information is passed from management out to all the train operators, station attendants, bus drivers etc. So when we riders ask a station attendant ‘hey, what’s going on downstairs…why have there been no trains for the past hour?’, the attendant looks at you with a blank face, as they had no idea there were even any problems. Bus drivers will drop riders off at a train station, not even realizing that the station is CLOSED due to some type of emergency. P/A systems on trains and platforms are often INAUDIBLE. When passengers are kicked off of trains due to a major problem, there are often NO MTA EMPLOYEES there on the platform, ready to assist us or direct us to alternative ways to get to our destination.
    Last month I was with my mom and sister and their suitcases, on our way to Penn so they could go back home. We were stuck on a train for ONE HOUR, then eventually kicked off at 36th Street station on the M/R line in Long Island City. No other trains were coming, so all the passengers had to go up to the street, on NORTHERN BOULEVARD (NO-MAN’S LAND) to try and get taxis (which basically don’t exist on Northern Blvd). It was utter chaos, and NOT ONE MTA EMPLOYEE ANYWHERE TO BE FOUND to assist us…especially those poor people who got off the train and had no clue where they were.
    THIS is my biggest problem with the MTA, that has nothing to do with ‘lack of funding’. The MTA is like the Post Office ….full of people who have no sense of the word ‘professional’ or ‘urgency’. The MTA needs to be privatized. It’s totally corrupt and inept. Who is managing the MTA management? Clearly no one.
    Broken P/A systems. No one taking the lead whenever there are problems. No communications to their other MTA employees. No communications to riders. It’s one hot mess. Go to Tokyo, ride their subway, and then come back to NYC and you will understand the cesspool that is the MTA. YES, the NYC subway system is old, but that does NOT excuse the total lack of professionalism and lack of communication during major system outages.

  2. This NYC infrastructure problem and the power problem in San Francisco are local problems. No way should Federal dollars be used to fix this.

    Both cites have wasted billions, have fat unfunded pensions, and on and on. So, they made decision and would never expect someone else to help.

    All should look at the socialistic and Dem leadership. That is where the problem comes from.

    If Bernie has his way these two problems will go viral just like Venezuela – that is what socialism and communism get you. Yea a dictator runs the place – just like every single other communist enterprise. The rich get much richer and the poor pay with the loss of basic items.

  3. Julie Austin says:

    Heck, this happened almost every day in the 70s and 80s. Except it wasn’t just power problems, but subway fires and terrifying train derailments.

  4. joechute says:

    Sanctuary cities lose power

  5. Sparky Mills says:

    It’a a leftist paradise !

  6. Dale McCan says:

    Comrade Mayor Deblahblahblah has some answering to do.

  7. Looking more and more third world every day.

  8. Jim Wharry says:

    Do you believe in coincidences? Same thing happened in San Francisco this morning. Could someone be trying to tell us something? Or maybe they lost federal money and couldn’t pay their electric bills?

  9. John Smith says:

    Well, it’s only sheep that are stuck on the trains. Real people have control of their own lives out in the country. I guess we’ll keep sending the sheep food …. for now.

  10. tell deblasthole to stop using taxpayer money to support illegals and his sanctuary city when the taxpayers funds should be used for infrastructure,

  11. Al Korzen says:

    How to bring a city to a complete shutdown.Think somebody might be watching?

  12. Jerome Barry says:

    I’ve spent scarcely 24 hours in my life visiting NY. I’ve taken 1 trip on the LIRR. That was 1990. In that 1 trip on that one day, some kind of mechanical failure caused the train to stop for several hours. I see from this story that big government hasn’t learned how to make trains run yet.

  13. Meanwhile, the ignorant rubes in flyover country are enjoying the fresh air. Maybe not so ignorant after all, eh? 😛

    Love ya, New York!

  14. No Problem, You elected a Socialist Mayor, Move over Venezuela!!!

  15. No Problem, you guys elected a socialist Mayor, move over Venezuela!!!

  16. Why hasn’t Trump been blamed for this yet?

    1. Give the biased liberal/socialist MSM time…and they will figure out a way to do it!

  17. Hey CBS, it’s not just Manhattan that’s suffering… those trains heading into Midtown start in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. How about remembering that we commute INTO the city?

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