September 10, 2021
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces Findings of Investigation into Subway Power Outage

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Governor Hochul Announces Findings of Investigation into Subway Power Outage
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MTA to Implement Mitigation Steps and Improved Protocols to Avoid Repeat of Aug. 29 Incident
 
Governor Directs Review of Operation Control Centers Across Entire MTA to Identify and Fix Any Other Potential Weaknesses

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the findings of an investigation into what caused the widespread power outage on all of the MTA's numbered lines as well as on the L train on Aug. 29. Two outside engineering firms, HDR and WSP, were tasked with investigating and determining a root cause and found that the outage was caused by human error. As a result of the investigation, Governor Hochul is directing a full review of operation control centers across the entire MTA to identify and mitigate any other potential weaknesses.

"On the night of Sunday, Aug. 29, service for subway riders suddenly and unexpectedly shut down, and immediately following the disruption, I directed the MTA to investigate the cause. The teams worked expeditiously to identify the source of the problem and recommend improvements. 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. I am also directing the MTA to review all operation control centers across the entire system to identify any further potential weaknesses and provide assurance in preventing a situation like this from happening ever again. We will deliver the modernization, enhancements, and reliability that riders deserve."

MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, "The report tasks the MTA with immediately reorganizing how we maintain and manage key systems that support the RCC.  The agency will also install additional cable connections to improve power redundancy in the building, as well as a more comprehensive Building Management System that will provide detailed visibility into the status of the building's electrical distribution, mechanical, and security systems. I want to thank Governor Hochul for really digging into these issues with us and helping to identify lasting solutions."

The reports revealed that the precipitating cause of the loss of power at the New York City Transit Rail Control Center was the byproduct of a manually-activated power-off switch on one of the building's power distribution units. 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, with existing organizational maintenance structures at the RCC in need of revision to prevent similar incidents from happening again. The firms investigating the incident also found that the effects of the incident were exacerbated 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.

The reports task the MTA with immediately reorganizing its maintenance management structure at the RCC. As a short-term improvement, the reports recommend that the Authority install additional equipment that will alternate electrical circuits to feed all of the electrical circuits in the building. In the long term, the reports recommended that New York City Transit install and manage a modern Building Management System that will provide detailed visibility of the status of the building's electrical distribution mechanical and security systems.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640

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