Subway Alert System Never Went Off During Power Outage, MTA Says
(Bloomberg) -- Several New York City subway lines shut down Sunday night after emergency generators failed to kick in and a malfunctioning alert system fooled supervisors into thinking the system was working as designed, a preliminary investigation has found.
The five-hour service disruption stopped 83 trains, including five in tunnels between stations, causing hundreds of riders to evacuate. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency that runs the city’s buses and subways, said the incident began at 8:25 p.m. when the Con Edison power company “experienced a power anomaly,” interrupting operations of subway signals and communications. A back-up battery system ran out of power in about 45 minutes, the MTA said in a memorandum about the incident.
Two emergency generators designed to operate automatically until Con Edison power is restored didn’t work as intended, the MTA said. The alert system also malfunctioned, failing to inform subway management of the interruption, the MTA said in a prepared statement.
Governor Kathy Hochul, who oversees the agency, said she will order the MTA to retain two engineering firms to further investigate the problems, including the “additional failure to quickly diagnose the underlying cause.”
She vowed to find out what went wrong and fix it, saying “New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in a fully functioning subway system.”
Returning the system to normal was also delayed by hundreds of passengers leaving the stranded trains themselves, rather than waiting for firefighters. Both New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Hochul said that was a bad idea. “It’s dangerous,” the mayor said. “Wait for the professionals to come.”
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