NEW YORK — Service on several subway lines resumed early Monday after several trains ground to a halt Sunday night due to a power surge in Queens, officials said.
Subway riders on several trains were left in the dark, literally and figuratively, with some even forced to walk through train tunnels after the sudden power loss.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a briefing Monday morning that half of the New York City subway system “experienced an unprecedented system breakdown.”
Service on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and L lines was impacted from around 9;30 p.m. to around 11:50 p.m., when some service resumed with delays.
Hochul said 83 trains were effected, including five trains that were stopped between stations, which led to about 550 passengers evacuating through the train tunnels.
The MTA said these occurred at East 86th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, as well as the East 153rd Street-Grand Concourse and East 149th Street-Grand Concourse stations in the Bronx.
Two of those evacuations were “orderly and directed by emergency personnel,” but two other instances were “self evacuations,” where riders decided to leave the trains on their own.
“We never ever want riders to do that. It is dangerous,” the governor said, adding that it caused a further delay in the restoration of service Sunday night.
According to the FDNY, about 300 passengers were evacuated by units at the East 149th Street-Grand Concourse station after four trains stalled south of the platform around 10:20 p.m.
Customers had to walk through the dark tunnel and were guided out by the FDNY. No injuries were reported.
“They made us exit out the rear of the train…We [were] walking on the side of the track,” one passenger recalled. “It was dark…I had to use my phone to light up the way for my wife and me,” he said.
The agency said the number lines and the L line were impacted because those lines are centrally controlled and the disruption impacted the Rail Control Center in Midtown Manhattan.
The letter lines were not impacted by the power surge because they are locally controlled, transit officials said.
Just before 2 a.m. Monday, the MTA said just that service had been fully restored in both directions along the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 lines, but warned of “extensive delays” and advised commuters to take letter lines if possible.
Hochul tweeted around 5 a.m. Monday that all rains were on schedule for the morning commute.
The governor said service could have been restored earlier, around midnight, but due to the riders who self-evacuated, authorities had to go examine all the tracks to ensure there were no people left behind.
“We need to know why the system broke down,” Hochul said Monday, adding that there was no indication the outage was a result of malicious, intentional actions.
According to Con Edison, a momentary voltage disturbance underground in Long Island City tripped the power to the Rail Control Center.
“The disturbance lasted a fraction of a second for all customers throughout our service territory. The cause of the trip is under investigation,” ConEd said.
Hochul on Monday gave further clarity into the chain reaction that led to the underground outages.
According to the governor, around 8:30 p.m., ConEd reported losing a feeder for a short period of time, which resulted in a voltage dip across New York City.
The momentary outage kicked on the MTA’s backup system, a transition that went smoothly, Hochul said.
However, when the MTA tried to switch back to its main power around 9:15 p.m., there was a power surge that resulted in the Rail Control Center losing its communication system.
The third rail did not lose power, so train lights and air conditioning continued to work.
Gov. Kathy Hochul held a briefing with MTA officials Monday morning to share updates on the situation:
Many online wondered if the subway outages were connected to a Queens manhole fire, but Hochul said that, as of now, it was not believed the two incidents were related.
The governor said the series of events was something that’s believed to have never happened before and there are still questions that need answers.