photo from James
James and I had an adventure yesterday in the subway - he has a more detailed write-up plus more photos. Around 5:30 our F train stopped between Broadway/Lafayette and West Fourth because of a homeless man throwing debris onto the tracks. Around 6:20 it moved briefly, then there was arcing and noise from the 3rd rail visible from our car's windows, along with some smoke in our car. People were pretty calm, and they told us to go to the front of the train. We then spent an hour standing around near the front of the train, until they told us to go to the rear of the train to exit via an emegency exit to the street. During that hour, they kept telling us that the police and fire departments were "on their way." Let me repeat that: they were "on their way" for an HOUR.
From the stories I've seen online we had it pretty easy, as we didn't have much smoke at all. I think it was much worse in some places.
Even though what we personally went through wasn't that bad, I was pretty shaken up once I thought about it later. Why did it take two hours to get us 15 feet to the emergency exit? Is the MTA, and its coordination with city emergency services, really that bad? We couldn't see significant smoke out the windows and we had the car windows open for the last 30-45 minutes. Is the city really that incapable of dealing with something bad happening in the subway?
This is the kind of thing that makes me question living in NYC. I'm not sure the people in charge are really capable of preparing this city for possible calamities. A single homeless man throwing some garbage can cause people to be trapped for hours in the subway?
I'm also disturbed that the "we're not prepared" angle seems lost to the media. Newsday put the article on page 17, under an article about Joan Rivers and the Oscars. The NY Times story, which didn't make the print run, is just ridiculous. They can't even calculate time properly. The last time I checked, 6:20-9 is not two hours, and in any case our train first stopped at 5:30.