An MTA signal failure knocked out service on multiple subway lines on Monday morning, stranding thousands of commuters at the height of rush hour and sowing “pandemonium” at some stations, according to straphangers.
Shortly before 8:30 a.m., the MTA suspended all F trains between Manhattan and Brooklyn, along with most service along the G line. In a tweet more than hour later, the agency blamed “a problem with the signaling system at Church [Avenue]…caused by an earlier loss of power from Con Edison.”
The outage was exacerbated by unrelated delays on the 4, 5, 6, E, B, and D lines, according to the MTA’s website.
Con Edison said the outage appeared to be due to a switch within the MTA's infrastructure that was turned off.
"We experienced a momentary voltage dip on our transmission system this morning but our system recovered immediately," Con Ed spokesperson Allan Drury said in an emailed statement. "We have installed devices at MTA stations to protect MTA equipment when voltage dips happen. The device at the Church Avenue MTA station was turned off when this morning’s voltage disturbance took place. We are in touch with the MTA, which is looking into why the device at the Church Avenue station was turned off."
Riders said they were waiting on subway platforms for more than an hour on Monday morning with no information from the transit agency.
“The most frustrating thing is that there were no speaker system updates or anything in the entire platform,” said Anna Low-Beer, who was attempting to commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan. “Everyone is standing around pissed off, looking at the screen that says 10 minutes. Then 10 minutes passes and it jumps again to 10 minutes.”
New York Assemblymember Robert Carroll reported a similar experience as he waited for an F train at the 7th Avenue station in Brooklyn.
“There were no announcements, it was just delay, delay, delay,” he said. “One guy threw up his hands and said he’d been waiting for 45 minutes.”
When straphangers eventually realized the trains were not coming, Carroll recalled, there was “complete pandemonium” at his station.
“People just flooded out of the station,” he said. “People trying to get cabs. People getting on buses. I heard a kid who was supposed to get to school say, ‘I don't know if I’m going to get to go to school.’”
Carroll himself said he paid more than $70 for a Lyft to take him to Penn Station – the second time he’s had to pay out of pocket because of an F train failure in the last month.
The delay comes as both Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul have urged New Yorkers to return to in-person work. But Low-Beer, who works as a program manager at the nonprofit Second Chance Studios, said the nightmare commute had made her less eager to return to her Midtown office.
“They’re talking about how New York is back and trying to incentivize everyone to get back in for the good of the economy,” the 28-year-old said. “If you want to make the economy run smoothly the least you can do is get people to work on time and communicate with them.”
F and G trains were running with “extensive delays” in both directions, according to the MTA’s website Monday morning.
After repeated requests, the MTA responded to Gothamist's inquiries Monday evening, saying the F and G lines were delayed due to a "a power system malfunction in Brooklyn," though spokesperson Tim Minton made no mention of Con Ed. He added that other delays resulted from a "homeless individual on tracks at Grand Central-42nd Street snarling 456 service" and "a track circuit interruption in Queens that impacted EFMR lines."
This story has been updated with additional information.