Transit meltdown: Most numbered subway lines suspended amid heat wave

Service along the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 train lines suddenly collapsed during rush hour Friday evening, shutting down amid a state of emergency Mayor Bill de Blasio declared as a searing heat wave descended on the city.
Natallie Rocha

Numbered subway lines are suffering shutdowns across the city amid a searing heat wave currently plaguing the Five Boroughs, and transit officials are advising straphangers on social media to use “lettered” lines.

The shutdown, which began affecting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 trains at shortly before 6 p.m., was caused by a network communications issue and brought tubes to a halt in both directions, according to a social media statement by the city transit company.

“[…] Our crews are working to address a network communications issue that is affecting service in both directions on our numbered subway lines,” read the statement by the New York City Transit Subway Twitter account. The shutdown, which began affecting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 trains at shortly before 6 p.m.,

The sudden breakdown created a near instant transit nightmare for commuters heading home as thermometers topped 103 degrees with humidity. Among them was former Brooklyn Paper intern Natallie Rocha, whose Flatbush Avenue-bound 5 train stalled just short of the Franklin Avenue stop at 5:58 p.m.

Rocha’s conductor initially blamed the unexpected delay on signal problems, but the train started moving about 10 minutes later, stopping with only the front car in the station, as the train operator directed passengers to move to the front of the train, Rocha said.

“They announced that the train would not be in service and all passengers needed to make their way to the front car,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if we would have to walk to the tunnels.”

Council Speaker Corey Johnson blasted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the sweeping shutdown, which occurred amid a state of emergency Mayor Bill de Blasio declared earlier in the day in response to the heat wave.

“I will be expecting a report from the MTA on how this happened during a heat wave when people are encouraged to use mass transit,” Johnson tweeted.

Comptroller Scott Stringer joined in to condemn the Authority, citing the shutdown as an example of a dysfunctional city.

“This is completely unacceptable MTA,” Stringer tweeted. “Service is suspended and platforms are boiling. New York cannot function like this.”

Frustrated straphangers vented on social media, excoriating the Transit Authority for the collapse at a time when city officials were urging New Yorkers to take mass transit in lieu of walking through the hot sun.

“I’m sorry, but this is bad. Like really, really bad,” wrote Andrew Henrquez on Twitter. “People need to be fired over this. How does something that completely shuts down the subway system like this happen? People need to be held accountable for grinding hundreds of thousands of people’s lives to a complete halt.”

As of 7:21 p.m., the Transit Authority had yet to give any updates confirming service had been restored, instead advising passengers to contact station agents for “courtesy passes” to busses or other trains within the transit system.

For service updates, follow @NYCTSubway on Twitter, or head to the Transit Authority’s website.

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