LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — New details emerged about what happened to stop a rush-hour F train in its tracks Monday evening, trapping riders inside a hot, dark train for nearly an hour.
The problem started at 6:20 p.m. when a southbound F train department from the West 4th Street station only to stop and completely shut down before it could reach the Broadway-Lafayette stop. The train was "unable to take power," the MTA said Tuesday.
First, the air conditioning went off. Then the lights.
"The next thing we knew, the workers in those neon vests were out in the tunnel next to our train walking by," passenger Erikka Olszewski told PIX11 News. "That's when everyone knew this is not train traffic; it's not a little problem. This is something bigger."
Within 10 minutes, a train service supervisor arrived, climbed onto the train through the rear car and told riders what was happening.
The MTA said train crew made an announcement saying the train was experiencing mechanical failure and that "initial communication to customers by the train crew" is under review.
Riders said they were told they were being delayed because of train traffic ahead of them.
"People started to panic a little bit. I don’t like being in small spaces," Olszewski said. "Then they made an announcement that they would 'try' to get us safely to the platform, which really panicked people because you don’t wanna hear them say they’re gonna try -- that doesn’t make it better."
At 6:45 p.m., the supervisor was able to recharge the train, which slowly rode into the Broadway-Lafayette station, the MTA said.
Dispatch ordered the operator to pull the train a couple of cars outside the station, so the train behind them could also enter the station and let customers off. That is why, the MTA said, the doors on the problem train didn't open right away.
It was about 7:05 p.m. by the time everyone was able to get off the train. Passengers said there were no lights and no air conditioning during the ordeal.
“Beads of sweat began rolling down people’s faces,” one man said in a post on Facebook. “We started to tell everyone to open the side windows and open the doors the three inches we could pry it open to, with books, to get the cross ventilation from the passing trains.”
Riders pulled off their coats, shirts and pants. It was so steamy, one rider wrote “I will survive” in the foggy window.
The trying episode cast yet another dark cloud over the heavily criticized MTA system, panned for being notoriously plagued by delays and interrupted service across the board.
The transit agency released this statement about the ordeal:
"While the rail control center and service supervisor responded promptly to this problem, we need to continue the push to minimize both the frequency and the duration of system failures and delays. That is the goal of the six-point plan announced last month."