In the midst of a brutal heat wave that has led Mayor Bill de Blasio to declare a local state of emergency, six major New York City subway lines—1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6—and the Times Square Shuttle were suspended for over an hour during the evening rush.
According to the MTA, a “network communications issue” with the system’s Automatic Train Supervision system led to the outage, with service on those lines suspended in both directions beginning around 5:50 p.m., and restored around 7:15 p.m. Around 7:45 p.m., the agency tweeted that service has resumed, but straphangers should expect “extensive delays” on those lines. The MTA directed commuters to take the lettered lines (A, C, E, etc.), or local bus routes, as an alternative. The MTA is also cross-honoring fares for commuters who can use that service within the city.
Straphangers took to Twitter (as is their wont) to complain of unbearably hot conditions on subway platforms and of trains being stuck in between stations.
De Blasio stated on Twitter that reps from the city’s Office of Emergency Management were on the scene at MTA Rail Control, and that the NYPD dispatched officers to subway stations to deal with crowding in stations and on platforms. He called the service suspension “UNACCEPTABLE” during a heat wave.
Other city officials have also registered their displeasure via Twitter:
As of 6:25pm 7/19 - Update: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and Grand Central-42 St S trains are suspended in both directions.— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) July 19, 2019
I will be expecting a report from the MTA on how this happened during a heat wave when people are encouraged to use mass transit.
A similar issue brought several subway lines to a halt just two weeks ago, but the root cause of that issue is still being investigated, according to New York City Transit president Andy Byford.
After service was restored, MTA communications director Tim Minton issued the following statement:
The 1-2-3-4-5-6 lines and Times Square shuttle experienced a total stoppage at 5:50pm due to a failure in the computer system that powers our signals in the A Division. For safety reasons trains were required to maintain their positions at the time of the interruption, and some of those trains were in between stations when that occurred. We worked to progressively move trains into stations while, simultaneously, technicians were successfully able to reboot the servers. We believe that no trains lost power or AC during the outage. Service began to be restored at 7:16pm. Service on all affected lines has resumed with substantial residual delays. Power for lighting and air conditioning remained on while service was disrupted.
Investigation of the root cause of this system failure is underway. Service on lettered lines (B division) was not impacted. Riders displaced from impacted subway lines were permitted to board buses during the interruption. We do not currently have indications that this was heat or power related, but investigations are underway.
During a press conference tonight, Byford said that “we will get to the bottom of it,” but that “we don’t know what it is yet,” regarding the cause of the system failure.