Yesterday as not a good day for Penn Station, which was the site of a stampede after false reports of someone with a gun. Before that though, there was also the case of a stranded NJ Transit train carrying 1,200 passengers which got stuck in a tunnel just west of the station. While one passenger on the train initially told Gothamist that passengers were "making the best of a bad situation," after the train had been stuck for about 90 minutes, another passenger emailed Gothamist and described a situation of escalating frustration, a total lack of communication and hours of darkness and heat.
Lisa Marie Basile, a 31-year-old woman who lives in the Financial District and works in Secaucus, told Gothamist that she was on the 3:02 p.m. NJ Transit train from Secaucus that wound up getting stalled in the tunnel. Basile wrote that when the train pulled into the tunnel, "I heard several loud bangs or snaps as if something hits of us from the bottom or the top. People saw sparks." After that, the train was stuck, and all of the lights and air went off.
That began what Basile described as a three hour ordeal in which almost no updates on the situation were given to the train's 1200 passengers, besides the train being stuck in the tunnel due to "mechanical issues."
"You would think in the age of terrorism that a tunnel leading out of and going into New York City would necessitate a contingency plan. There seemed to be none. At all. Even the crew was visibly shaken," Basile wrote.
Eventually, according to Basile, EMTs showed up to give people oxygen after two hours had gone by. While EMTs were responding, including treating one passenger for a bloody nose, Basile says that a woman on the train crew blamed "big men above arguing what to do with us" for the fact that the train was stuck so long without a promised rescue train, which an EMT apparently agreed with according to Basile.
Eventually, after three hours of being stuck in the tunnel, the train finally pulled into Penn Station, but even then Basile says that there was no clear explanation of what had happened. "There was talk of us hitting something, hydroplaning, the top part of the train being broken (the electric part), but no confirmation," Basile wrote.
"I'm just so upset there was zero protocol down there. Yes, I freaked - but even from a rational, cool-headed POV today, it's like, 'Wow, that happened - and no one had any idea what to do,'" Basile wrote.
NJ.com reported that six people on the disabled train had non-life threatening injuries when all was said and done. The site also reported that Steven H. Santoro, the executive director of NJ Transit, asked customers to contact him about their experiences when he apologized for the incident:
"To our customers who were significantly delayed today on Northeast Corridor train #3850, and other customers who were impacted by this incident, we deeply apologize for your experience, and I would like to hear from you. Please contact me through our website at njtransit.com using the contact us section on the home page, or call us at 973-275-5555 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week.