NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of commuters were trapped at Penn Station the night before the snowstorm, raising concerns they could be sitting ducks for a terrorist attack, fire, or stampede.
CBS2 has discovered that Amtrak failed to enact existing crowd control procedures, and Political Reporter Marcia Kramer demanded answers on Friday.
Thousands of NJ Transit commuters were unable to move, almost unable to breath because signal problems delayed trains for hours.
David Peretz didn’t like it.
He was worried about what might happen in the event of a terrorist attack.
“The security could have been much tighter. There were a lot of people. I don’t think they were screening people. It was really hectic, one person on top of the other,” he said.
It’s not just worries about terrorism — which remains top of mind for many after the recent attacks — but what about fires or stampedes?
“Now I’m nervous because I’m on my way to New Jersey now,” Wendy Campbell said.
The most jaw dropping response to these concerns came from Amtrak which admitted it has something called a ‘Code 400’ procedure if overcrowding becomes dangerous. It wasn’t used that night.
“We were close to calling a Code 400 during Wednesday’s NJT crowding, but because trains were about to return to scheduled operations, a Code 400 was not called,” they said.
A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo who has made much of his plans to rebuild Penn Station first referred CBS2’s Kramer to Amtrak, before saying Cuomo is committed to making Penn safer.
“The state will continue to aggressively pursue a redevelopment plan that enhances security, ensures public safety, and improves the lives of commuters,” the spokesperson said.
A source said of Wednesday’s overcrowding, “it looks like there were serious issues that were not addressed.”
So, what does New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy plan to do about it.
“It ought to be a concern. This is just another data point about the complete breakdown of NJ TRANSIT,” he said.
Murphy said he wants to work with Amtrak, but NJ TRANSIT has to get to a better place.
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez was simply horrified by the overcrowding.
“Here’s a dimension that is crying out for an answer because it has a real potential for risk. Anyone who goes up to that track, you don’t even need a ticket to go up to the track, something is wrong with that,” he said.
When asked Amtrak didn’t order crowd control procedures on Wednesday, they told CBS2’s Kramer they, “did not believe it was a dangerous situation.”