A crowd of rush-hour commuters got a rude surprise yesterday evening when, stopped at Jay Street-MetroTech, the conductor of their F train told them it would be running express, then drove off without opening the doors, carrying hundreds of weary souls to Park Slope.
The rogue F train pulled into the Downtown Brooklyn station shortly after 6:00 p.m., and came to a complete stop. Three Gothamist reporters were on board and heard this announcement: "Due to the lateness of this train, we will be running express to Seventh Avenue." For local stops, the conductor instructed passengers to get off and wait for the next F.
Ben Smith was headed to his home in Bedford-Stuyvesant after an afternoon in Soho, and needed to transfer to the G at Carroll Street, so he moved to get off, as did many others gathered near the door, staring through the windows at a platform lined with people gathering to board. Then came the chilling announcement: "Stand clear of the closing doors."
"What I’d expected was that, as he’d claimed, they would open the doors and we would be able to get on the train that was coming behind him," Smith said. "But since he never opened the doors we were basically all held captive there."
True to his word, the train carried us past the next two stops, up and around the bend of the Culver Viaduct, the beauty of the view of Gowanus sapped by the fact that we were taken against our will. Then we were back underground, and by around 6:20, at Seventh Avenue, where hundreds of us disembarked to begin to undo our surprise trip to Park Slope.
Team Gothamist, now running late for a 7 p.m. baseball game on Staten Island, walked off into a crowd of angry straphangers, dozens of whom took the opportunity of passing the conductor's window to give him a piece of their mind. As Smith recalls, some accused the conductor of being high or drunk. In a video Smith helpfully provided, a few people sum up the mood of the entire train with these choice statements:
"Why the hell didn't you open the doors? I'm late now!"
"Look where we at!"
"Something wrong with your brain!"
The conductor looked dazed throughout the several minutes that people berated him. At one point, he pulled out some sort of ID to show those gathered around, and said, "I'm sorry," then stopped speaking altogether.
Smith said he couldn't speculate as to whether the conductor was intoxicated, but said, "He obviously wasn't paying attention." Smith would like to see an official investigation of the snafu.
Update 1:25 pm:
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg gave us this statement: "We take this matter very seriously and began an investigation as soon we were made aware of it last night. That investigation is ongoing."
— with Emma Whitford