Broken subway elevators cause commuter confusion

Elevators at brand-new stations on the Second Avenue subway are having ongoing problems. Last Friday during the evening rush, 3 out of 4 elevators were broken at East 63rd Street and Third Avenue. The elevators are the only way that riders can get down to the platform. The station doesn't have escalators and the door to the stairwell is locked.

However, commuters ended up in the stairwell after riders coming upstairs from the platform opened the door for them from the inside. A Fox 5 producer who was also trying to get home recorded the maze of confusion that followed. They stumbled onto an station security worker stationed at another locked door and asked her for directions to get to the platform. But she had no idea.

The maze of confusion continued as commuters discovered numerous staircases, but none of them led to the platform. The security worker had demonstrated the doors where she was stationed were locked.

We showed the video to Nick Sifuentes, the deputy director of the commuter advocacy group Riders Alliance. He said elevators need to be functioning all the time. He also said there has to be some other kind of way to access the platform, stairs, and escalator.

We also showed the video to Chris Pangilinan with Transit Center, a nonprofit foundation that focuses on improving public transportation. He said that the elevator banks weren't working is outrageous, especially for a brand-new station. Pangilinan says broken-down elevators throughout the subway system are an ongoing problem. He says that in 27 months, he has recorded 212 elevator outages.

Fox 5 contacted the MTA about the incident and offered to show the agency the video and speak to officials about the safety issues that were raised. The MTA did not accept our offer. 

Instead, the MTA sent this statement: "Customers should have been directed to the Lexington Avenue end of the station to enter or exit the station. We will investigate the circumstances behind the incident."