Brooklyn subway riders were left stranded during the Monday morning rush hour after the MTA suspended F and G trains due to signal troubles, blaming utility company Con Edison for a loss of power.
The outages began after a power dip at the Church Avenue station and signaling tower at 8:14 a.m. in Kensington, suspending both trains for more than an hour.
Straphangers took to Twitter to voice their frustration at the MTA for messing up their commutes, including one local state lawmaker who had to ditch mass transit for a pricey ride-hail car so he could connect to his train headed to the state capital.
“No trains on the F Line in either direction. I now have to take a $72 @lyft to Penn Station so I can get to Albany. This is no way to help people get to work and school,” wrote Assembly Member Robert Carroll on Twitter.
The Brooklyn pol arrived at his local station only to find little information other than digital screens showing delays, and fellow riders told him the situation had been like that for 45 minutes.
— Assemblymember Robert Carroll (@Bobby4Brooklyn) March 21, 2022
The legislator voiced his support for a push by advocacy group Riders Alliance toward Governor Kathy Hochul and the legislature to send more funding in the state budget to the MTA transit officials who can run subways as frequently as every six minutes throughout the day.
“After today’s hellish commute this needs to be a top priority,” Carroll said. “The @MTA ’s reduction of service and near constant delays will hamper NYC’s recovery. If we want tourists and office workers to return we must have a reliable subway system.”
MTA restored some service between Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn about an hour after the original warning went out at 9:21 a.m., with trains ending at Smith-9th Streets in Gowanus.
Half an hour later northbound F trains returned to all Brooklyn stations on an “extremely limited” basis, while there were still no southbound subways past Church Av, and no G trains south of Smith-9th.
Full service at all stops resumed at 10:12 a.m., according to MTA, but NYCT warned on Twitter that there would still be leftover delays as they brought the two lines back on schedule.
F G trains are running with extensive delays in both directions.
F G trains have resumed making regular stops in Brooklyn.
Our crews are fixed a problem with the signaling system at Church Av. This problem was caused by an earlier loss of power from Con Edison. https://t.co/sEFBf8c1V3
— NYCT Subway. Wear a Mask. (@NYCTSubway) March 21, 2022
A Con Edison spokesperson said the utility had a dip in power Monday morning. The rep added that the company has safeguards in place to keep MTA equipment running, but that this protection was turned off for some reason when the outage happened.
“We experienced a momentary voltage dip on our transmission system this morning but our system recovered immediately,” said Allan Drury in an email. “We have installed devices at MTA stations to protect MTA equipment when voltage dips happen. The device at the Church Avenue MTA station was turned off when this morning’s voltage disturbance took place.”
“We are in touch with the MTA, which is looking into why the device at the Church Avenue station was turned off,” Drury added.
An MTA official cast doubt on those statements, telling amNewYork Metro there was no device turned off that could have had any impact on the outage.
If the Brooklyn bungle wasn’t enough, MTA also had to suspend service at two other transit arteries, causing delays in a total of three of the five boroughs in the morning.
On the 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 lines there were delays caused by a track trespasser at Grand Central-42nd Street around the same time as the F and G issues, and earlier that morning in Queens on the E, F, M, and R lines a track circuit interruption at 67th Avenue station at 5:30 a.m. made for late trains as well.
An MTA spokesman apologized for the tri-borough subway meltdown that kicked off the week.
“Service is now running normally on all affected lines. We are committed to reliability but riders had a tough commute this morning and we apologize for the resulting inconvenience,” said Tim Minton in a statement Monday evening.
Along the southern Brooklyn section of the F train that struggled in the morning — also known as the Culver Line — the MTA has started installing new and automated signals over the weekend known as communication-based train control, or CBTC.
Upgrading the signaling system — which effectively acts as the subway’s traffic lights — is supposed to modernize Depression-era transit infrastructure to make trains more frequent and reliable.
The agency was scheduled to do work on the CBTC upgrades along the Culver Line starting on Friday evening through Monday morning at 5 a.m. — just hours before the outage, but the MTA rep later told amNewYork Metro the two weren’t related.
“The best understanding we have is there’s absolutely no relation to that work that was going on,” Minton said.
Monday’s snafu also marks the second time in as many weeks that F train riders have had to face grueling waits.
The F, along with B, D, and M trains were suspended for more than three hours on March 9 along the 6th Avenue Line in Manhattan, due to signal failure at W. 4th Street-Washington Square station in Greenwich Village.
Last summer, a mass breakdown of subway service happened on a section of tracks also undergoing CBTC upgrades at the time: the Queens Boulevard Line, carrying E, F, M and R trains.