WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Track fires, broken elevators and blocked exits at the 168th Street station sparked massive delays three separate times this week — shaking commuters who say the conditions have them fearing for their safety.
The nightmare peaked Friday morning after a track fire that started at the 103rd Street station spread to other stations along the 1 line and caused major congestion as passengers tried to exit the station.
So there was a track fire on 103rd St and this is the line to get on the 168 elevators to get to the A train 😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡 pic.twitter.com/BM81Opl3Yh— julz ✨👑 (@jujubeannn_) February 3, 2017
The fire was extinguished and service resumed at approximately 8:12 a.m., MTA spokeswoman Amanda Kwan confirmed.
The fire came days after several elevators broke down on Wednesday morning, leaving hundreds of passengers, like Inwood resident Susie Chester, packed onto the narrow train platforms for nearly an hour.
“It’s a fire hazard,” said Chester, 41, adding that Wednesday’s incident crossed the line for her, because “waiting is one thing, but dangerous is another thing.”
The MTA confirmed that two elevators were out of service Wednesday morning. The first elevator went out of service at approximately 7:22 a.m., while the other was due to a “faulty motor brush,” which was replaced and back in service by 12:15 p.m.
Been waiting to get on an elevator for 17 minutes and counting in the 168 train station, talk to me @MTA— María (@Airam_se) February 1, 2017
“I just wonder why they haven’t explored an additional exit on the Uptown side or an escalator,” Chester said. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s cost-prohibitive, but it’s really unsafe and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that.”
The MTA said they keep repair crews nearby or on site for elevator issues, particularly during rush hours. They also add station personnel on site to monitor conditions and assist customers “when crowd conditions are reported” to them.
Chester said she did not see any MTA officials on site monitoring the crowds Wednesday morning.
Other residents said there are problems with the other exits as well.
“For the past 7 months, almost all of the staircases on the northern end of the 168th A/C stop — by 169th [Street] — have been closed,” said Andy Signer in an email to DNAinfo New York. “This leads to a lot of congestion… Homeless people sometimes camp out on the stairs adding to the congestion.”
The MTA said the exit closures have been part of “two ongoing projects that started at different times.”
“The first is a project on the 1 Line side of the station complex repairing the ceiling, replacing wall/floor tiles and addressing water intrusion that started in 2013,” said Kwan, adding that the project is “substantially complete with only punch list items remaining.”
The other, she said, is on the A line side of the station and involves replacing all three station exit staircases. The main exit, near the token booth on 168th Street, Kwan said, reopened in the summer of last year. One of the other two, which are on the 169th Street side, reopened Tuesday night and the other is expected to reopen later this month.