On Monday evening, a group of commuters in NYC were forced to cosplay as extras on The Walking Dead when their subway car shut down without lights or air conditioning for more than an hour in a dark tunnel between stations. Bystanders at the next platform captured the train rolling into the station while the sweat-zombies inside tried to pry the doors open with their fingers and begged for the sweet release of death (or at least some fresh air), and honestly, it’s the most terrifying thing on the internet today.
The horrific cage of hell was a southbound F train — the NYC line that runs from Queens, through lower Manhattan, and into southwest Brooklyn — that stopped somewhere before the Broadway-Lafayette Street station at 6:57 p.m., right at the tail end of rush hour. Chelsea Lawrence, a commuter outside the train, captured a shocking video of multiple passengers’ cramming their fingers through the train’s pneumatic doors, attempting to force them open and let them out at the station, while begging to be let out.
If you don’t live in NYC, here’s some context behind the horror: The NYC subway system, run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, is one of the largest in the world. It runs 24/7, which is a blessing if you end up drunk in the wrong borough at 3 a.m., but it is notoriously slow, delayed, and unreliable because it hasn’t been truly modernized, and most of the infrastructure is several decades old. It’s basically a steaming system of porta potties chained together that 5.7 million people ride every day. Most train cars are air conditioned, and all of them have lights inside (that work, sorta). But since the trains run on electricity from the third rail, when power goes down, air conditioning and light can both shut off. During rush hour, it’s usually standing room only on the cars, with bodies packed in shoulder to shoulder. As you can imagine, things get really sweaty, really fast. And according to bystanders, these people had been on the train with no air or light for an hour. Imagine standing in a dirty bathroom right after someone’s taken a hot shower with 15 other strangers, and you’re beginning to understand the horror.
Lawrence caught some faint yells for help in another video.
Here’s a snippet of what happened when people finally got out: “Do NOT get on this train!”
Inside the train, things were even worse. Lisa Di Donato captured some scenes from inside and uploaded them to Instagram. Make sure you swipe through the gallery; the last frame is a video of the hellscape inside.
Di Donato’s post notes that the MTA said the delay was caused by train traffic ahead, but that reasoning would almost never account for a delay that long. Michael Sciaraffo, another passenger, posted a long account of the helltrain on Facebook, saying that it was a severe maintenance malfunction, and that many passengers suffered from heat exhaustion, forcing them to remove clothes and almost pass out. Eventually, Sciaraffo said another train physically pushed the sweat-tank into the next station at around 1 mile per hour.
“The feeling of remotely cooler air felt amazing compared to how it felt on the train,” he wrote. “I never enjoyed the dank, smelly aroma of a train station more in my life.”
In related news, the Broadway-Lafayette stop is about 3 blocks from the Inverse offices, so that’s fun. Fingers crossed the hell train doesn’t pull into our station again today.