clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

MTA WTF: A visual timeline of the subway’s epic 2017 meltdown

New, 4 comments

It’s been a heckuva year on the NYC subway

Power Outage Affects MTA Subway Service Citywide
A packed subway platform during an April power outage.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated with the most recent information.

It’s no secret that the New York City subway has been having some issues lately, with the problems that have always plagued the transit system—signal malfunctions, overcrowded trains, beat-up stations—seemingly getting worse.

And as the problems have increased, so too have the number of people who’ve taken to social media to share the bad and the ugly moments of their daily commutes. (This includes, occasionally, the MTA itself, which updates commuters via the NYCT Subway Twitter account.)

Though Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA have revealed a plan to tackle some of the problems plaguing the subway system, it’s unclear how long it would take (or even if that plan will offer a real, honest-to-God solution rather than a Band-Aid). Meanwhile, straphangers continue to report as problems arise—leading to many a “WTF?!?” moment on social media.

Here, we’ve cataloged some of the most outrageous of those moments, from flooding to packed platforms and everything (waterfalls?!?) in between.

January 18: An inauspicious start to the year: an elevator at the Court Street station in Brooklyn stopped working with 20 people trapped inside, leading MTA workers to rescue them by coming through the elevator’s ceiling. “The fire department came very quickly and they were so wonderful,” Rachel Jo Silver, one of the stuck commuters, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. They opened a ceiling panel, climbed down with a ladder and we climbed out.”

March 2: A water main break in Brooklyn Heights leads to delays on the R line, and the Court Street station floods with murky water. Just another day on the subway!

April 21: A Con Ed equipment failure at the Seventh Avenue station in Midtown leads to an epic snafu that lasts basically the entire day; as the New York Times put it, “Delays quickly cascaded outward from Manhattan, halting trains underground many miles from the site of the power failure and stretching normally routine commutes into hourslong slogs. At least a dozen subway lines, including many that do not pass through the affected station, were delayed.” Unsurprisingly, this makes subway stations a total nightmare.

May 2: At the Franklin Avenue stop in Crown Heights, pieces of the ceiling fell onto a 3 train, causing delays across the system. Many of the subway system’s stations are in bad shape, and reports have said it could take as long as 50 years to get them in a state of good repair. Yikes.

May 5: A huge storm led to flash floods throughout the city, which of course extended into the subways, too. Commuters reported flooding and in-station waterfalls throughout the transit system, a not-unusual occurrence during inclement weather.

May 9: Another power outage, this time at DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn, leads to another day of widespread subway delays, overcrowding on platforms, and frustrated commuters.

May 31: Extensive subway delays led Hunter College student Jerich Marco Alcantara to miss his graduation ceremony, but in a perfect display of how New Yorkers come together in times of subway-related crisis, his fellow E train passengers threw him a mock ceremony. “It was a great time,” Alcantara told New York. Awww.

June 5: We’ll let Gothamist take this one: “Unamused commuter Stella Kim emailed Gothamist to note that it took her roughly thirty minutes to go one stop from York Street in Brooklyn to East Broadway in Manhattan, where the train stalled again for about 20 minutes. On the plus side, it was there that a magical and all-too-rare waterfall hashtag blessed the inside of the subway train.”


Also June 5: A perfect storm of terrible factors—a stalled train during rush hour with no air conditioning—led to what can only be described as a commute from hell. Passengers were stuck on an F in between stations for nearly an hour before finally being freed, and the ensuing video looks like a horror movie filmed in a steamy subway car.

June 14: A water main break in Harlem led to delays on the 6 train (and, inevitably, delays on other lines as well); one straphanger captured water rushing into the subway station—though, thankfully, not the car itself—as a result.

June 20: Signal problems at Herald Square led to a larger meltdown along the Sixth Avenue line, with NBC New York reporting that the delays grew so bad—even hours later—that “at least one rider [was] so desperate to escape delays he tried walking subway tracks to get to work on time, witnesses said.” The MTA, of course, was not happy: “Under no circumstances should customers leave a train unless instructed to do so by the train crew,” a spokesperson told NBC.

June 27: A subway train derailed near the 125th Street station in Harlem, causing disruptions to the A, B, C, D, E, F, and M lines. The two subway cars derailed after hitting a piece of replacement rail that was not properly stored that was being used in repair work.

The derailment caused the cars to hit the wall, leading Transit Workers Union member Paul Navarro to observe that “the train was peeled open like a can opener.” Riders on the train were evacuated, but passengers on other stalled trains took matters into their own hands; many exited trains themselves and walked on the tracks, leading first responders to go below ground and lead them to safety.

June 29: Governor Cuomo finally (finally!) declared a state of emergency for the New York City subway, saying that the state plans to allocate an additional $1 billion in funding to the agency’s current capital plan. “We are now beginning to see what happens when mass transit systems break down,” Cuomo stated. Yeah, no kidding.

July 17: A track fire at 145th Street caused massive subway delays and caused non-critical injuries to nine people. The fire ensnared the A, B, C, and D lines leading some anxious riders seeking to get downtown to turn to the 1 train—to no avail. Major delays caused by overcrowding lead to some seriously packed platforms.

Stay tuned, because this list will only continue to grow as the year goes on.