The rush of the morning commute is often a time when train passengers zone out for a bit, not always listening to every announcement. Last week, one NJ Transit passenger experienced what happens when one tunes out a little too much – and ends up getting stuck in the rail yard, alone in an otherwise empty train for more than an hour, desperate for help.
Tohfa Hasni said she was on her way to work in NYC on August 26 and had her headphones on listening to music. The train stopped at Newark Penn Station as normal, but NJ Transit tweeted and announced over the loudspeaker that the train was being taken out of service for mechanical reasons, and that customers needed to exit.
But Hasni never saw or heard the announcements. Next thing she knew, she was stuck in a Newark rail yard.
"It was frightening, it was actually terrifying because in the moment, I didn't really know what to do (or) how to get out of there or what would happen next," Hosni told NBC New York. "I looked around the train, I went around up and down to see if anyone was on it and I realized I was actually locked inside of an out-of-service train that was parked, and left there with the other parked trains."
She called her brother and he and her father called 911. It took transit police 90 minutes to find her, with her brother AJ saying it took more than a half hour just to go through the whole database for them to figure out where to locate her.
Tohfa was rescued eventually, and put on another train to New York Penn Station. NJ Transit later apologized in a statement, saying "in instances such as this, train crews are required to check the trains to ensure all customers have exited. An investigation is underway to determine appropriate disciplinary action that may be taken upon completion of that investigation."
Next time, Tohfa said there should an in-person reminder would have been enough to prevent it from ever happening.
"If it was just a simple, you know, someone walked by and said 'Hey, this train is out of service, make sure you get off,' ... I could've avoided the whole thing," she said.