Power Outage Strands Commuters Across City

The Friday commute: everybody up and moving, and looking forward to the weekend. TGIF, right? Not so joyful this morning. A power outage in Midtown Manhattan caused massive delays for subway trains all over the city. Some riders were stranded underground for more than an hour and half. Devin Briski reports. 

At 9am, this morning the E train was stuck between Queens Plaza and Court Square. For 25 minutes, the only updates were like this.

MTA ANNOUNCEMENT

At this time there is no E on 8th Avenue line. If you go anywhere on 8th Avenue line, then stay on this train 

LEMY: I’m just tired I just want to get to work. I’ve been on the train for over an hour now.

That’s Fabuola Lemy. (lemEE) She’s already transferred trains twice coming from Ridgewood Queens. Luckily

LEMY: My coworkers are covering for me until I arrive so will see. 

People were visibly impatient. Fred Mercado says his whole day was going to be off.

MERCADO: Terrible — this is terrible. I be late an hour for work! 

By mid-morning, an MTA spokeswoman said they had determined what was happening.

MTA: All I can tell you is that it happened around 7:25 this morning. It was due to a power outage. We determined that it was a Con Ed issue. 

The power outage caused the lights, signals, and communication system to not work. Eventually, the MTA used generators to get signals working again. But not before thousands of people were delayed for hours. A spokesperson for Con Edison said they’re on the scene investigating where the breakdown happened.

CON EDISON: We have all our folks there who are looking at the equipment, and we’re working with them to figure out what went wrong. 

By mid-afternoon, Governor Cuomo ordered an investigation. Adel Nasiri is a professor of electrical engineering at University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. He says when it comes to power outages, there are a few causes but one usual suspect.

NASIRI: The big one is the equipment failure. When it happens, if there is no route to provide electrical power to a system, of course the system will not have power. 

Norman Garrick teaches urban planning and transportation at the University of Connecticut. He says mornings like this really strain the confidence commuters have.

GARRICK: It’s not just about how long it takes you to get some place but it’s also the reliability. If you have systems that are breaking down and you cannot rely on it, there is clearly an economic cost. 

Commuters stuck on the E train this morning could all agree on one thing: thank god it’s Friday.

LEMY: I just want this week to be over! 

It’s probably safe to assume, the MTA wants it to be over too.

Devin Briski, Columbia Radio News

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