(Bloomberg) — Governor Kathy Hochul called for the review of a “system breakdown” on New York City subways caused Sunday by a Con Edison power failure.
“Let me be very clear: Last night was unacceptable,” Hochul said at a news conference Monday morning. “I’m immediately directing a review to find out the root cause of the service issues last night. We need to know why the system broke down and why there’s a breakdown of communications between the rail center, the rail control center and the trains.”
The five-hour service disruption to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a state agency that primarily serves the city, stopped 83 trains along the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and L lines. Five trains stopped in tunnels between stations, causing hundreds of riders to evacuate, Hochul said.
The incident began about 8:25 p.m. when Con Edison power failed “for a short period of time,” leading to a “voltage dip” and two plants going offline, Hochul explained. Service was restored about 1:30 a.m. Monday.
Con Edison spokeswoman Anne Marie Corbalis said “a fault to an underground transmission feeder in Long Island City, Queens, caused a momentary voltage disturbance last night.” Corbalis said the disturbance “lasted a fraction of a second for all customers throughout our service territory.”
Two power plants and generators went off line, the governor said. When the MTA tried to resume normal service, “an unprecedented surge” caused the subway to lose signals and communication to its command center as well among trains, stopping traffic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he’s working with Con Edison to determine what went wrong.
“It’s a strange series of events,” he said at a news briefing. “We don’t know how they interconnect. We don’t know how much was Con Ed and how much was MTA. We need answers.”
Returning the system to normal was also delayed as passengers left stranded trains themselves, rather than wait for firefighters. Both de Blasio and Hochul said that was a bad idea.
“It’s dangerous,” the mayor said. “Wait for the professionals to come.”