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Straphangers faced ‘hell on the F train’ during Monday night’s commute

New Yorkers were stranded for nearly an hour without light or air conditioning after a train lost power.
Commuters faced nearly and hour of sweltering heat and darkness after an F train became disabled Monday night.
A mechanical issue caused riders on a F train to be stranded underground in darkness and sweltering heat for nearly an hour. (Twitter/davidtaylor)

New York City straphangers’ Monday ended much the same way it began: with a hellish commute, this time on the F train.

After what the MTA said was a “train with mechanical problems” at Broadway-Lafayette Street in Manhattan, riders were stranded in an underground tunnel for about 45 minutes — without power or air conditioning.

The situation was so dire that one Twitter user described it as “hell on the F train” while another said that her train car got “so hot we could write on the windows.”

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In a Facebook post recounting the incident, Michael Sciaraffo said riders were told when the train first stopped that there was train traffic ahead — “We all know that lie all too well” — and that his fellow passengers immediately began fanning themselves and sweating.

“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,” he continued.

While many passengers got into various stages of undress, “claustrophobia, panic and heat exhaustion began to set in for many folks,” Sciaraffo wrote.

He said that after about 30 minutes, they were finally told that there was a “severe maintenance malfunction,” and the passengers “began to discuss making decisions about how we were going to evacuate, who would go first and who would need help.”

As those plans were taking shape, Sciaraffo said that the train jerked “oddly forward and backward” because another train was behind theirs, slowly pushing it forward to the next station.

Because that platform was so packed by people waiting for disabled F train to arrive, “we had to wait another 10 minutes, sweating, in the dark, before we could get off,” Sciaraffo recalled.

Once off the train, Sciaraffo wrote that he “never enjoyed the dank, smelly aroma of a train station more in my life” and was thankful that while it was a “terrible experience,” he was “very grateful” it wasn’t “something more serious, like a terror attack, and that ultimately, we will all be making it home to our families safely.”

"At 6:20 p.m., a southbound F train was unable to take power north of the Broadway-Lafayette station. A train service supervisor arrived at the incident train approximately 10 minutes later, entered the train from the rear end and informed customers that the train was unable to take power," the MTA told Metro via email Tuesday. "Announcements at that time by the train crew were also informing customers of the mechanical issue. At approximately, 6:45 p.m., the supervisor was able to recharge the train, and the train was able to move at slow speed into the Broadway-Lafayette station. At that time, the Rail Control Center instructed the train operator to pull the train a couple of cars outside the station in order to allow for the train behind the incident train to also enter the station and discharge customers. That is why the doors on the incident train did not immediately open. The doors on the incident train were opened within five minutes of pulling into the station, and customers were discharged at approximately 7:05 p.m. Initial communication to customers by the train crew is currently under review."

Though the MTA did say the control center and service supervisor "responded promptly" to the incident, the agency added that "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."

Straphangers faced a spate of signal problems and mechanical issues during Monday morning’s rush hour commute, causing extensive delays on several train lines.

Read Sciaraffo's full Facebook post about his experience on the F train below: 

 
 
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