A lack of exits at an Upper West Side subway station led to massive overcrowding during rush hour on Wednesday evening. Straphangers told Gothamist they were trapped in the West 79th Street subway station with no way to leave around 6 p.m.
"The MTA has closed all but one narrow exit leading out of the uptown 79th Street Station on the 1 line," said Elaine, a local resident who took the video below. "The result is that right now though there are five consecutive loads of trains of people lined up and unable to leave the station. Serious safety issue."
Elaine also said that cops were called to that station by 6:30 p.m. to try to help get people out: "I am trapped on the platform," she added.
Several other people tweeted about the dangerous overcrowding:
The exit at the 79th street uptown 1 train is still a hot, dangerously crowded mess, @NYCTSubway. I mean 2 trains have discharged and I’m still waiting to exit. Nowhere for people to go. pic.twitter.com/Ov91mm52SC
— Kate Hinds (@katehinds) May 29, 2019
@NYCTSubway this doesn't feel safe, but it's been this way regularly at rush hour for quite awhile now. When will you finally finish the stair repairs that are causing this situation? pic.twitter.com/N35DZWMaCz
— Ben (@bentayllr) May 29, 2019
— Isebrand 🇺🇸 (@Isebrand) May 29, 2019
One narrow staircase in and out of subway station at W79#mta#really?!? pic.twitter.com/VvC2TaUyEO
— blkgirlanalystnyc (@dotceethreee) May 29, 2019
Elaine connected with us later, "Yes, 20 minutes after my train put me on the platform, and after 5 more trains arrived behind me, I was able to leave. An exit that usually takes, for comparison, 10 seconds.... There were no announcements."
Part of the issue was weather, Elaine explained, "My sense is that that station is not designed for one single file exit, during rush hour, during a rainstorm. People trying to open umbrellas at the top of the single file line, and people trying to get in at the same time while carrying umbrellas, made everything stop."
She thinks there should have been a transit worker to help direct traffic, someone who could "halt anyone from trying to get down the stairs while there is a crowd trying to get up the stairs. People going down should be made to wait, so that two single file lines can exit side by side."
The southern staircase of the station has been closed "at least a couple of weeks" due to construction, according to locals. It has caused problems at that station since at least April:
This is a HUGE issue. Yesterday I saw 3 moms with strollers trying to go down those stairs and they had to wait for the mob of people who just got off the subway to get out
— Anthony (@anthonymborges) April 17, 2019
— Kate Hinds (@katehinds) May 13, 2019
I’ve been exiting at 72 St and walking to 79 since the closure. It’s very dangerous. Once you exit there is no way out except the clogged stairway —no way to even get back on the platform. Disaster waiting to happen
— irene (@Ireneadv) May 14, 2019
We've contacted the MTA for comment, and will update if and when we hear back.
Update: "This staircase rehabilitation project has been complicated by the discovery, after wall tile removal, of extensive structural steel corrosion that must be repaired," MTA spokesman Shams Tarek told us on Thursday. "To help manage crowding, we’re deploying additional station personnel every weekday from 4 to 8 p.m. starting today, and are continuing to monitor the morning rush as well. We apologize for this inconvenience and thank our customers for their patience while we make these critical improvements."