Thursday’s rush-hour brawl on the A train should never have had such a devastating impact on commutes, according to the MTA.
Andy Byford, the MTA’s Transit president, told reporters Thursday afternoon that a communication breakdown between the city police, the transit authority’s Rail Control Center and his high-ranking staff was to blame for the cascading morning delays stemming from a fight involving mace on a Brooklyn A train on its way into Manhattan around 8:15 a.m.
The incident led to a 90-minute investigation during which all A and C trains had to be rerouted onto the F line, with some F trains then having to be rerouted on the G line, according to the MTA. Byford said police decided to hold the A train at the High Street station for the investigation, which he believed was the wrong course of action.
“I’m concerned that the train was there for as long as it was. Obviously the police have a job to do,” he said, during an unrelated news conference in Sunset Park.
Asked if the situation was handled correctly, Byford said, “I think I need to look into it a bit more. The fact that [the delay] lasted so long would suggest to me, no.”
As the A train headed north, one rider got into an argument with another rider, but the argument soon escalated involving other commuters, NYPD Transit Chief Edward Delatorre told reporters at another, separate news conference.
A rider then pulled out mace and sprayed several people before fleeing the train car. Officers on the street arrested a suspect believed to be involved, Delatorre said.
“I don’t know all the details as to why the train was held an hour or if it even was held an hour,” Delatorre continued, “but anytime there’s a crime we have to deal with the people who were injured and also deal with witnesses as well.”
But Byford said, had he’d known, he would have instructed the train to be moved out of the station.
“I would have been all over that saying, ‘You can have the train but you’re not having it there. We’ll give it to you. You can take it somewhere else,’” Byford said, “But we cannot stop the service for 90 minutes for a fight.”