'Human error' blamed for massive subway power outage

An investigation into what caused a widespread power outage on all of the MTA's numbered subway lines, along with the L train, on Aug. 29 is blaming human error and not a power surge or fire.

It was initially believed that a fire in a manhole on a New York City street started a chain reaction that caused the massive subway outage.

The report found that the main cause of the loss of power at the New York City Transit Rail Control Center (RCC) was caused by a manually activated power-off switch on one of the building's power distribution units.

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Preliminary indications suggest that the emergency push button might have been accidentally pressed since a plastic guard that would prevent accidental activation was missing.

Failure to restore power for more than an hour appears to have been the result of internal organization and process flaws at the RCC.

The firms investigating the incident also found that the effects of the incident were worsened due to the RCC's lack of a power distribution monitoring system. Such a system would provide visibility of the status of key electrical components in the power distribution system.

Governor Kathy Hochul says she is directing a full review of operation control centers across the entire MTA to identify and mitigate any other potential weaknesses.

The state controls the New York City subway system.
"I am directing mitigation steps to ensure riders are not interrupted by these causes ever again," Governor Hochul said. "New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in a fully functioning subway system, and it is our job to restore that confidence."