Power surge disrupts NYC subway system for hours

Power surge disrupts NYC subway system for hours
© Getty Images

An “unprecedented” power surge in New York disrupted the city's subway system for hours on Sunday, according to Gov. Kathy HochulKathy HochulWoman accused of trying to set fire at Jewish school arrested in New York City The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle EMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul MORE (D).

Hochul, during a news conference on Monday, said one half of the system “experienced an unprecedented system breakdown” that started with a report of a lost feeder at around 8:25 p.m. for a "short period of time" which “resulted in a voltage dip across New York City.”

At around the same time, two power plants and generators went offline, according to Hochul, which was “a momentary outrage that did not go to the backup system.”


When officials attempted to “go back to normal,” an “unprecedented surge” occurred that led to the subway losing signalization and its communication abilities between the command center and trains throughout the system, Hochul said.

The outage affected the 1 through 7 train lines, in addition to the L Train.

Hochul said 83 trains were impacted, but the “most concerning” detail was that five were stuck between stations, affecting more than 550 people. The breakdown lasted until 1:30 a.m. eastern time on Monday.

“This ended up leading to evacuations in the tunnels and two of those evacuations were orderly and directed by the emergency personnel,” Hochul said.

In two other cases, however, riders self-evacuated, an act that Hochul said is dangerous and led to delays in restoring the power.

Hochul, in a separate statement on Monday, said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) review “uncovered a sequence of failures that resulted in some backup systems not providing power as designed last night, including an additional failure to quickly diagnose the underlying cause.”

She said she directed the MTA to direct two independent engineering firms to “assist in a thorough deep dive of what happened and make recommendations to ensure this does not occur again.”

“Let me be very clear. Last night was unacceptable. If you're one of those riders or people relying on safe transport, the system failed you. The MTA is the lifeblood of the city, and a disruption of this magnitude can be catastrophic,” Hochul said at a news conference on Monday.

New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Boosters take a big step forward New York subway rider says officers pushed him after he asked they wear masks NYC extends vaccine mandate to expand to all public workers, ends test-out MORE (D) said Monday that city agencies were working with the state and MTA to look into the disruption.

“We’ve got to figure out why this happened and make sure it does not happen again,” de Blasio said.

The disruption in the subway came during Hochul’s first week as governor of New York. She was sworn in to the position last week following the resignation of former Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoEMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul Hochul jumps out to early lead in NY governor's primary: poll De Blasio privately says he plans to run for New York governor: report MORE (D), who stepped down after the state attorney general released a report that said he sexually harassed 11 women.