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D Train Riders Trapped Inside Multiple Stalled Trains For Hours

Dashed Arrow Brian/Flickr

If you took the subway this morning you probably experienced an appalling and inexplicable commuting mess on at least one train line. But in all likelihood it wasn't as bad as what some poor souls endured on the D line last night, when several trains got stuck on the tracks for hours.

Elise, an unlucky passenger/prisoner who asked that we use only her first name, said she boarded an express north-bound D train at Broadway-Lafayette Street around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. Things chugged along without incident until 59th Street, after which point, "stuff got sketchy."

"I knew we made it past 81st, and then somewhere between 96th and 110th, we were stuck," Elise told Gothamist. And while that happens from time to time on every train line, this delay wasn't normal. Elise's train sat in the tunnel for over two hours.

"In some cars, it was pandemonium," she recalled, saying she saw a woman in the neighboring car have what appeared to be a panic attack, and that multiple angry commuters tried to pry open the train doors. Several succeeded in escaping somehow, she said, and were seen outside the train on the tracks.

Elise said she could hear two different voices making announcements on the loudspeaker, but naturally she could only understand one: Apparently, the train ahead of theirs had stalled. "[The conductor] was shouting at us saying they can't go back and they can't go forward and he wants to get off the train, too," she recalls. But in fact, they could go backward—and did. Eventually.

Lindsay Schoonover also became ensnared in this colossal SNAFU, having boarded a D train around 8:45 p.m. at Herald Square. After being stalled a while, she said she saw a man, who had presumably liberated himself from the car ahead, walking north along the side of the tracks.

Without cell service or WiFi, Schoonover said, passengers had no way of knowing what in the ever-living heck was going on. The riders developed "a weird sense of community" Schoonover explained. People swapped portable chargers, sat together on the floor, bonded in their shared experience of a very specific hell.

"The gals next to me made a joke about anyone having a bottle of wine?" Schoonover recalled, although it's probably good that no one poured alcohol on this trash fire: Schoonover said no one was able to move between the cars, keeping everyone trapped together for an unknown period of time.

Between 9:45 p.m. and 10 p.m., Schoonover said, the announcer told everyone that the train would be returning to 59th Street. Eventually, they did start moving backward—for a bit. "We went backwards almost to 59th," Schoonover recalled, "and then when they started moving us forward again we were on the same track. I'm not sure where this train with mechanical issues disappeared to." Such things are not for us mortals to know!

By the time the train rolled into 125th Street, it was roughly 10:40 p.m.; Schoonover didn't reach her destination in the Bronx until after 11 p.m., nearly two-and-a-half hours after she embarked on her subterranean odyssey. "I just think the MTA needs to focus less on making new expensive stations and more on improving the trains," she said.

Elise agrees: "This is not an incurable disease," she emphasized. "Our transit system is this antique that we use everyday, and when people say there's no money in the budget, that's a lie. It's about values at the end of the day, and the people who are deciding the budget don't value the time of the people who use the train. When people say there isn't money, there is money, you're just not putting it in the right bucket. It's how you divide the pie."

Asked what caused these staggering delays, an MTA spokesperson told Gothamist: "At 9:15 p.m. there was a report of a stalled work train experiencing mechanical problems on the express tracks north of 110 St. As a result, the 3 passenger trains on the express track behind the stalled work train, was moved to a spur track at 72 St, then proceeded to the 81 St station where passengers were discharged. There were no report of injuries. The incident cleared at 10:37 p.m."

The memories, though—the memories will haunt us forever.

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