What to Know
- The MTA has now pulled its entire Bombardier R179 fleet out of service -- just days before New York City is set to enter Phase 1 of its reopening
- The MTA has launched an investigation into an incident in which a train became separated between the sixth and seventh cars of a 10-car train Wednesday morning
- The incident took place just after 1 a.m. on a northbound A train as it entered Chambers Street Station, according to Interim President of NYC Transit Sarah Feinberg. Ten passengers were safely removed
The MTA has now pulled its entire Bombardier R179 fleet out of service -- just days before New York City is set to enter Phase 1 of its reopening -- as it launches an investigation into an alleged incident in which a train became separated between the sixth and seventh cars of a ten-car train Wednesday morning.
The incident took place just after 1 a.m. on a northbound A train as it entered Chambers Street Station, according to Interim President of NYC Transit Sarah Feinberg. Ten passengers were safely removed with no reported injuries.
“At this time, we believe this to be an isolated incident, however, I am launching a full investigation, and out of an abundance of caution, the entire R179 fleet is being pulled from service until further notice. We have redeployed additional spare cars and minimal impacts to service are anticipated," Feinberg said in a statement.
“This marks the latest unacceptable issue with one of Bombardier’s R179 cars. Customer and employee safety is New York City Transit’s North Star. We will not compromise one inch on safety. We will not return the fleet to service without certainty and validation that all cars are fit for passenger service – period," Feinberg's statement goes on to say.
NBC 4 New York reached out to Bombardier for comment regarding this latest incident. In a statement, Bombardier said in part: "We are working in collaboration with New York City Transit and Wabtec, the supplier of the link bar between the cars, to conduct a detailed analysis and to implement an inspection plan for the entire R179 fleet. We will reserve additional comments until the results of these actions are known. We share New York City Transit’s highest concern for passenger safety and are treating this incident with the urgency and attention it requires."
Bombardier's statement goes on to say: "We value our partnership with New York City Transit and are fully committed to providing safe, reliable, high quality rail cars for the millions of people who ride New York’s subway system every day. We will continue to work closely with our customer to make sure that the R179 cars are the best performing cars in New York’s fleet."
NYCT Says It's Not the First Issue With Bombardier Fleet
Earlier this year, the MTA pulled nearly 300 newly delivered subway cars for safety reasons effective immediately, citing an analysis of "two recent incidents" involving doors. No passengers were injured in either case.
A source familiar with the investigation confirmed to NBC New York at the time that at least one of the incidents involved the doors opening while the train was moving, putting passengers at risk.
The problems with the Bombardier trains happened "over the holidays," possibly in late December and early January, one source familiar with the incidents told News 4 at the time. In total, 298 cars were pulled, affecting cars on the A, C, J and Z lines.
In a statement, then NYCT President Andy Byford said two recent incidents with the Bombardier R179 subway cars raised questions about "the reliable operation of a door mechanism" on the newly delivered cars.
He added that "the MTA has identified repeated issues with Bombardier’s performance and finds this latest development unacceptable. We intend to hold the company fully accountable.”
However, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted the MTA regarding the incident earlier this year, saying his office released an audit a month before that showed how its contract with Bombardier was late -- three years behind schedule -- and cost taxpayers "millions" of additional dollars.
Stringer said that audit showed layers of mismanagement in the MTA's oversight of the contract, repeat failures to meet contact deadlines, poor project management, technical breakdowns and structural defects that delayed cars being put into service. Other defects had cars yanked.
However, Bombardier pointed fingers at its subcontractor who manufactures the doors.
“Our investigation shows that the doors were not properly calibrated by Kangni, the door operator supplier," state statement from Bombardier read.
In short, the chain of blame in the incident went: Stringer blamed the MTA for failing to purchase quality products; the MTA blamed Bombardier for faulty equipment; and Bombardier blamed their subcontractor Kangni for the door malfunctions.