A momentary power surge disrupted half of the New York City subway system for several hours and stranded hundreds of passengers, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Monday.
The unprecedented breakdown affected more than 80 trains on the subway system’s numbered lines, plus the L train, from shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday to about 1:30 a.m. Monday, Hochul told reporters.
Five of those trains were stuck between stations while carrying over 550 people who had to be evacuated through the tunnels, the governor said. The evacuation of two trains was directed by emergency personnel, while riders on two other trains left on their own, she continued, adding that “the last train was re-platformed.”
This self-evacuation delayed the restoration of power because the rescue team “had to go examine all the tracks to make sure that there were no people on them,” Hochul continued.
Power could have been restored by midnight but because of the passenger risk after self-evacuation, it was restored one and a half hours later, Hochul explained.
The governor called the outage unacceptable: “The MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] is the lifeblood of the city, and a disruption of this magnitude can be catastrophic.”
Hochul said that she has ordered a review to determine the root cause of the service disruption to prevent it from re-occurring.
“I would also be clear that we’ve had no indication of any malicious actions that would have created the situation, and that’s why I want to find out exactly what happened,” she added.
The power surge was triggered by a sequence of events after the city’s electricity supplier, Con Edison, lost a feeder for a short period of time, which resulted in a reduction of voltage for New Yorkers, according to Hochul.
At the same time, two power plants went offline, causing a momentary outage and a subsequent failover to the backup system, she said.
“When it tried to go back to normal, there was a surge, an unprecedented surge that resulted in the subway losing signalization and communication ability and it lost that between its command center and the trains throughout the system,” the governor explained.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference that there were no injuries due to the incident. He also said the city government has been working with the MTA to investigate the disruption.
Hochul, a Democrat and former lieutenant governor who took over as New York governor on Aug. 24 following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, said that the subway service is now back to normal for the Monday morning commute.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.