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NYC Subway 7 Fills With Smoke Under E. River, MTA Silent, Lines Stay Closed

By Matthew Russell Lee

NEW YORK CITY, June 2, updated below -- A New York City subway on the 7 line running east from Grand Central jolted to a stop on the night of June 2, under the East River, and filled with smoke. Inner City Press photo here, picked up with credit by NBC, here.

  There were no announcements by the train conductors or MTA. Riders began pushed their way back from where they thought the smoke was coming from, yelling for others to hurry up, knocking some down.

  But when the door between subway cars were opened, more smoke came in. There was panic. Some covered their faces with their shirts, photo here (used by ABC, with credit, here); others began to pray. In one car a man said loudly, “My cousin died in Nine-Eleven.”

New York City and its Metropolitan Transit Authority have been given many reasons to improve. Long since Nine-Eleven, in The Bronx we had a major derailment, which Inner City Press covered in detail. Promises were made. But the system remains sclerotic, unable to respond quickly to anything.

The 7 train was jammed although it was pasted 10 pm, because the MTA had stopped all service on the N, Q and R lines, shunting all of those passengers to the 7 line. Amid the smoke-filled pandemonium, some were still calculating how to get home: the 4, 5 or 6 north to catch the E train? Others continued to pray, preparing themselves for death.

The train lurched backward toward Grand Central, but then stopped again. A woman began to scream; others tried to calm her. One man, with a thick Irish accent, joked that bad things happen when the New York Yankees lose. 10 to 2, another said. Oh my God.

   A half-station under the United Nations at First Avenue has been reported on by Inner City Press, but the MTA did not use it.

  There were still no announcements by the train conductor or MTA. One rider opened the side window; smoke came in. Finally the train pulled back into the Grand Central stop, where the platform was jammed. Photo here. People bought bottles of water from the news stand; one woman fell to the platform, writhing. Still no explanation.

The N, Q and R were not re-opened; no new E trains came. Stoic New Yorkers set off on foot. “Take a picture to show your boss,” one rider shouted. It inched toward midnight...

Update: above ground, the three e-mail alerts from the MTA were:

11:05 pm: b/d, 7 trains are running with delays, due to a FDNY activity at 42 St. Allow additional travel time.

11:09 pm: Main St bnd, 7 trains terminate at Vernon Blvd, due to a FDNY activity at 42 St. Allow additional travel time.

11:22 pm: Times Sq bnd, 7 trains terminate at Hunters Point Av, due to a FDNY activity at 42 St.

  That's it...

Update II, June 3, 10:40 am -- still no explanation on MTA's website, which has no email contact for media questions. Nothing on MTA's Twitter feed either. #Fail.


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