Rain Wreaks Havoc on New York’s Mass Transit System

Flooding shut down half of New York City’s subway lines on Friday, sending travelers scrambling to reach their destinations as they waded through the flooded streets and train stations.

The rain poured so intensely at times that commuters stood on the benches inside bus shelters to avoid the floodwaters. Transit workers were evacuating subway stations while maintenance crews pumped thousands of gallons of water a minute from subway tunnels.

Gov. Kathy Hochul called the bad weather a “life-threatening rainfall event,” as transit officials urged riders to stay home.

“There’s children who use the subway to get home from school,” Ms. Hochul said during a news conference. “People need to be able to know if they can get home from work. And so that is priority No. 1: that our subways and our rail systems are safe.”

About half of all subway lines were either fully or partially suspended because of the rain. Service on the Metro-North Railroad, the commuter line connecting New York to its northern suburbs, was also badly affected. Travel in and out of Grand Central Terminal — the railroad’s main hub — was suspended because water had submerged the system’s electrified third rail network in the Bronx. Janno Lieber, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, urged passengers to consider the bus system because it was fully operational aside from some delays.

Commuters waited at a bus stop in Astoria, Queens, on Friday.Credit…Nico Schinco for The New York Times
In the Bronx, commuters stood on a bench at a bus stop as water in the street rose.Credit…Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

Still, in Queens, a bus station worker told a group of travelers that flooding around La Guardia Airport was slowing trips by up to 30 minutes at a busy nearby bus stop in Jackson Heights. Chris Buzan, visiting from Phoenix with his wife, Kim, and two sons, hoped they could make their flight home.

“Fingers crossed,” Mr. Buzan said. When the bus finally arrived, several minutes later, the Buzans managed to squeeze in, but other travelers had no choice but to stay behind.

Train crews scrambled to adjust service as heavy rain flooded the Canal Street station in Lower Manhattan, while in Brooklyn it submerged the tracks at President Street and Seventh Avenue. Major train lines that crisscross the city were cut off or delayed.There was no 2, 3, 4 or 5 train service in Brooklyn, and B and G train lines were suspended in and out of Manhattan, among other service interruptions.

In Brooklyn, some subway station entrances were blocked off with yellow caution tape. Crowded Manhattan-bound Q trains were stalled at stations as passengers squeezed in, with some travelers enduring commutes that had stretched hours longer than usual.

Aissatou Diallo, 18, said she had no choice but to wait at the Prospect Park station in Brooklyn, because she needed to get to a class at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, on the West Side of Manhattan. “Everyone is squished,” Ms. Diallo said. “It’s better to be late than not show up at all.”

Andrew Keh, Hurubie Meko, Zeke Minaya and Joseph Goldstein contributed to this report.

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