A viral video showing passengers trying to physically claw their way out of an F subway after it was stuck between stations for over an hour has become symbolic of New York’s growing subway disruptions during the last two months.
— Chelsea Lawrence (@chelseahbelle) June5, 2017
An F train was stuck between West 4th street and Broadway-Lafayette for roughly an hour Monday evening, passengers say. The subway car shown in the video lacked air conditioning from the beginning, leaving passengers overheated and frustrated.
The MTA did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.
Anjelica Oswald, a reporter for BI’s sister website Insider, was a passenger in the subway car when the train went down.
“I’ve never sweat so much just from sitting,” Oswald said. “Everyone was dripping and couldn’t breathe.”
Oswald said she got on the crowded F train at the 23rd street station a little past 6 p.m.
The subway had been moving slowly before it stopped altogether. At first, the conductor said the subway had stalled due to train traffic.
Passengers were told for 30 minutes that the delay was caused by train traffic before an MTA employee admitted the F was stuck due to mechanical problems.
“That’s when I started panicking,” Oswald said. “I started getting lightheaded. I got on the floor to sit and breathe.”
The heat got so bad that the windows in the subway cars started to fog, according to passengers who were on the train.
— Samantha Mushnick (@SamanthaMush) June 5, 2017
And in some of the cars, the lights even went out.
Broken F train. 45m standing in dark tunnel, no AC. The new R179s can’t arrive soon enough. pic.twitter.com/32eI5aekH6
— David (@davidtaylor) June 5, 2017
“Claustrophobia, panic and heat exhaustion began to set in for many folks,” Michael Sandy Claus Sciaraffo, a passenger on the train, said via a Facebook post.
Passengers on the train tried to look out for each other by helping crack open windows and giving up seats for a pregnant woman and elderly commuters on board. Still, communication itself was poor, leading to a general sense of panic among some passengers.
“Once we pulled into the station, a mob of people had filled the platform waiting for our train, which left no room to get us off. We had to wait another 10 minutes, sweating, in the dark, before we could get off, while the people on the platform took pictures of us dripping sweat through the windows while we were trying to pry the doors open, as it was getting dangerously hot in the train car. People started to yell things like please get me out and I feel sick,” Sciaraffo said in his post.
When the subway pulled into the station, the windows were steamed up and passengers were desperate to get out.
A NYC transit official then said commuters had to wait 10 minutes before the doors would open because the MTA was attempting to fit two stalled trains on the platform.
The F train fiasco is the latest in a string of disruptions that have plagued New York commuters in the last few months.
Subway delays have more than doubled from roughly 28,000 per month in 2012 to 70,000 a month this year, according to The New York Times. Mechanical performance has also worsened, leading to situations like the F subway disruption Monday.
The MTA announced a new version of its five-year, $32.5 billion funding plan that directs $14 billion toward improving New York’s subway system. It primarily tackles short-term solutions, like improving subway-car failures.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is also providing a $1 million “Genius” grant to the person with the best solution for fixing problems directly connected to subway delays, like an aging signal system.
In the meantime, New York commuters have become frustrated with the frequency of disruptions.
— chris (@gochrisgo) June 6, 2017
This is not a regular occurrence. Lived here 10yrs & number of delays, down signals, stopped trains I’ve been on in last 2 months is crazy
— Caro (@socarolinesays) June 6, 2017
Yeah I left NYC in part because of this two weeks ago. My F train commute went from like 25 minutes to over an hour this last half year.
— Matt Hallock (@mghallock) June 6, 2017