Transit turmoil: Straphangers demand pols prioritize subway service after ‘hellish’ week

A member of Riders Alliance holds a sign in support of congestion pricing.  Eagle  photos by Jonathan Sperling.

A member of Riders Alliance holds a sign in support of congestion pricing. Eagle photos by Jonathan Sperling.

By Jonathan Sperling

A hapless rider almost swept off his feet and onto the tracks by a tide of water at the Court Square subway station. A signal malfunction that disabled at least seven train lines. A power failure that left straphangers sweltering underground in the July heat.

And that was just the past week in New York City subway system, prompting straphangers and local politicians to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to invest more into the city’s bus and transit networks.

“Friday’s meltdown was a terrifying reminder to subway and bus riders how badly we need leadership from Gov. Cuomo and also Mayor de Blasio,” Riders Alliance Political Director Rebecca Bailin said at a rally across from the MTA’s headquarters in Manhattan on Monday.

“As climate change continues to give us more and more dangerous weather conditions, it is important that we have funding for the MTA,” she added.

Advocates at the rally reiterated their call for more redundancy in subway/bus network — reliable bus service that can act as a fallback for an out-of-service subway line — as well as better communication between the MTA and riders, especially in the wake of last week’s rush hour catastrophe.

Manhattan State Sen. Brad Holyman noted last week’s subway flooding, which almost sent a man onto the tracks at Court Square.

Manhattan State Sen. Brad Holyman noted last week’s subway flooding, which almost sent a man onto the tracks at Court Square.

Seven train lines — the No. 1,2,3,4,5,6 and S shuttle between Times Square and Grand Central — did not operate for more than an hour during Friday’s evening rush due to a “network communications issue.” Riders were left sweltering on hot subway platforms and inside trains that were stuck between stations amid a harsh heat wave that struck the city late last week.

Though Queens’ subway lines were left unscathed by Friday’s outage, politicians from Brooklyn to Manhattan were still buzzing about a viral video of a man being swept away by a tide of water on the E/M train platform at Court Square in Long Island City. The rushing water nearly pushed the unidentified straphanger into a train as it pulled into the station.

The flood, caught on cellphone video, was “caused by a contractor working on a residential development project that could have put lives at risk,” NYCTA said in a statement.

“You shouldn’t need a life preserver to take the subway,” said Manhattan State Sen. Brad Holyman at Monday’s rally.