NYers Chase Subway Waterfalls & Brave Train Rain During Nasty Monday Commute

As if to clear up any doubt that the weekend is OVER, this morning's commute was a drenching, dreary ordeal for mass transit riders, due to heavy rain triggering flash flood warnings across the city. Are your socks still wet? Ours are, among other things. Monday seems to be getting stronger, but New Yorkers are still stronger than Monday, right? When the subway stairs turn into a gushing waterfall, New Yorkers climb that waterfall.

When it rains inside the subway train, New Yorkers continue enjoying a breakfast sandwich.

Ellie Sunakawa boarded the L train at Bedford Avenue around 10 a.m. when someone tapped her on the shoulder and told her to watch out for the rain inside the train. "The train jolted and it just started raining inside the car—luckily I still had my hood on," she told us. She didn't even notice the breakfast sandwich guy until after she rewatched her video: "When I watched the video later I saw this totally unbothered guy with the sandwich and laughed because it was the most New Yorker thing I’ve ever seen. Honestly I’d do the same, what is he going to just let it get wet? I know the MTA can’t control the weather but there’s no way it should’ve been raining inside the train —something really has to change."

Bret Hyde captured the magical subway waterfall clip above just after 9 a.m. at the 42nd Street/Bryant Park station. "When the train stopped, the doors opened and I heard the cascade of water raining down from the next set of doors over from me," he said. "The people on the train and the platform didn't seem that put out by it (shoutout to the people in my mentions saying how strange it was there was that much room on the train itself), but at that point, it wasn't that surprising to see."

Mike Murphy saw more flooding at the Court Square-23rd Street station in Queens around 10 a.m. "My commute usually takes like 35-40 mins, and today it took over an hour," he told us. "A whole bunch of people stood back from the flooding, not wanting to cross further down the platform, and the rest just ignored it, because I think sadly they're used to this sort of thing now."

Another tipster, who also took video at the Bryant Park station around 9 a.m., echoed Murphy's weary sentiments: "People were just trying to get around the waterfall and the whole thing had the usual kind of 'gird yourselves for Monday' air about it, which probably says something about the state of the subway these days."

According to the MTA, despite the wet conditions all over the system, only two stations (145th Street 1 train & 42nd Street F/M trains) were bypassed in one direction because of the water. Those stations were cleared in about two hours, while rain was still falling. "We immediately sent emergency maintenance and customer service personnel to help clear water and direct customers," said MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek, who added, "NYCT pumps 13 million gallons of water out of the system on a dry day." (For some context, a powerful rainstorm severely hobbled the entire system in 2007.)

MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein helped explain that 13 million gallon figure: "Thirteen million gallons is pumped out on a dry day because Manhattan used to be lakes and rivers and the subway is the lowest point—water drains to the lowest point," he said. "The reason we use 'pumps' is because we have to get the water back into the sewer system. As for the 'holes,' like street vents and grates, we keep them there so we can ventilate the system. And the other 'holes' like staircases allow people to get into and out of the system —so can’t plug those."

So while some may have been too quick to blame the MTA, that doesn't mean commuters don't see room for improvement. "The MTA appears to be entirely reactive, as opposed to proactive, in these kinds of situations," Hyde said. "It had been raining for awhile at that point, and not so much as a cone or a platform controller nearby?"

"And for what it's worth, I'm voting for Cynthia Nixon in the primary for a number of reasons, not least of which is Cuomo's utter disregard for mass transit in the city."

This was previously published on the Gothamist newsletter on April 16, 2018. Don't miss stories—sign up for our newsletter here.

Featured in News