A power failure at a Midtown subway station had a massive ripple effect across a dozen of the system's lettered lines, causing delays that stretched for hours. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Across much of the subway system, it was the morning commute from hell.
"We just came out now because it's quicker to walk," said one commuter.
The morning meltdown of the city's subway system began inside the subway station at Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street. Power lines went out at around 7:30 a.m., just as the morning commute was approaching its peak.
"The power was out to signaling systems, and you can't run trains at full capacity when you've got no signals for safety reasons," said MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco.
The station where the outage occurred is on the B, D and E lines. Service on those routes immediately came to a halt.
But the outage soon had a cascading effect on other lines. Eventually, service on 12 letter lines was either knocked out or severely delayed.
Hundreds of thousands of straphangers were affected, from the north Bronx to Brighton Beach in southern Brooklyn to Forest Hills in Queens.
"A lot of our lines kind of mix together. They merge and converge," said Richard Barone of the Regional Plan Association. "This is a great thing when it comes to actually having one-seat rides or direct access without having to make a transfer. But it's an Achilles heel sometimes when problems happen."
"The system is a very complicated system. There are aspects of it that are fragile," said former MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot Sander.
The MTA and Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly heaped blame at Con Edison for the crippled committee.
The governor tweeted that it was "unacceptable" for a Con Ed "equipment failure" to take out "the lifeblood of New York City."
Con Edison's equipment failure during rush hour this morning is unacceptable, the subway system is the lifeblood of New York City.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 21, 2017
He demanded that two agencies he oversees, the MTA and the state's Department of Public Service, investigate.
Con Ed acknowledged it was to blame.
"Sometimes it's on MTA equipment, sometimes it's on ours. In this case, we've identified equipment on our side that needs to be repaired," said Con Edison spokesperson Michael Clendenin. "There were failures on some underground equipment that feeds that station at 53rd and 7th. This, in turn, affected the signals over there."
The MTA brought in back-up generators to restart the signal system.
Service was back to normal on the lettered lines by midday. Residual delays elsewhere continued until 2 p.m.
Trains were expected to bypass the station at 53rd and into Saturday.