Last night, NYCT Subway Scoop Tweeted, "#ServAdv: Downtown #4 turning at Bowling Green due to a smoke condition. Expect delays" For the over 400 riders on that 4 train, it turned into an unnerving experience. Our own James Thilman was on the train at 9:30 p.m. and says it "suddenly stopped between Bowling Green and Borough Hall. Quickly filled with smoke, people got a little jumpy (only a few screamers). We sat for well over an hour and were then transferred to another train and sent back to Bowling Green," which is where many people decided to give up on the MTA for the evening.
The Village Voice's Steven Thrasher was also on the train and has a long description. Here's what happened at the begining:
About a minute after pulling out of Bowling Green station at full speed, I felt a bump. Hearing a "pfizz," the train came to a halt.
Had we hit something? Had someone pulled the emergency cord?
I realized that we were underwater. I'm not normally a claustrophobic type, but I suddenly felt very nervous, and we were under a few hundred (thousand?) feet of water.
Then, the car started to fill with smoke.
It was the most frightening thing I'd ever experienced.
The man next to me pulled out a gas mask and winked at me. I had the terrifying feeling that every time I'd made fun of terrorism being overblown was going to come back and haunt me.
"It's OK," he said. "I work in construction."
I found this not particularly likely or reassuring.
The passengers, which included very young children, were taken off the stopped train and transferred to a rescue train. Thrasher writes, "For whatever reason, I ended being the next to the last person on the entire train getting off. There was a putrid, acrid, smokey smell passing between each car, like a hundred soldering torches were lit. When we finally got to go to the rescue train, the gap between the two was about a foot. MTA workers were telling us to watch the gap. Three firefighters were there, getting ready to investigate the 'explosion' and needing to put out the fire, whose location wasn't certain." He also took some video:
The MTA tells us the smoke condition is still "under investigation."