Riders Report Fainting, Lightheadedness from Heating Oil Fumes on L Train

What to Know

  • Service on a stretch of the L train was temporarily suspended as the MTA investigated "fuel smells" on the tracks
  • The smell was determined to come from non-flammable heating oil that had leaked onto tracks at Graham Avenue
  • Service was suspended for hours but resumed by the evening rush; air quality at all stations has been tested and determined safe

L train service was snarled Monday afternoon as the MTA investigated fuel smells that at least one person said caused a fellow straphanger to pass out. 

Service was suspended for hours between the 1st Avenue station in Manhattan and the Morgan Avenue station in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon, the MTA said. It resumed before the evening rush. 

The MTA later determined that the smell was from non-flammable heating oil that had leaked onto the tracks at the Graham Avenue stop in Williamsburg and that there was no health risk. 

But there were multiple reports of riders passing out amid the smells. Bushwick rider Josh Fidanque said he was riding on a crowded train on Tuesday morning without much circulation when another rider collapsed near the First Avenue stop in Manhattan. 

He said he and several other riders helped the man, who quickly came to and didn't need any help.

Fidanque said that he too felt lightheaded after passing by the smell on his way home from work Monday night, and again while heading to his office at the World Trade Center on Tuesday morning. 

"It's a relief once you get out of there," he said. "Can finally breathe again."

The MTA initially believed the smell was leftover fumes from diesel work trains passing through the stations, but when they didn't dissipate, it immediately investigated. 

"Air quality at all stations has been tested and determined to be safe," said MTA spokesman Max Young in a statement. "We apologize to our customers for the delay in service – their safety is always our number one priority and we would never compromise it."

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