Kate Hinds covers transportation for WNYC News.
Stranded A Train Passengers Sue New York MTA
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 02:53 PM
A year after being trapped on an A train for over eight hours in a blizzard, a group of passengers is suing the New York MTA.
Twenty-two stranded straphangers are named as plaintiffs in the suit, which was to be filed on Tuesday in Queens County Supreme Court. They were left without heat, food or water when the train got stuck in several feet of snow in Queens, near JFK Airport, the day after Christmas in 2010.
Earlier this month, Thomas Prendergast, the president of New York City Transit, discussed the agency's preparations for the upcoming winter at a New York City Council hearing. "We forgot about that train," he said. "That’s inexcusable.”
The MTA wouldn't comment directly on the lawsuit. It issued a statement that read: "In the aftermath of last year’s blizzard, we have implemented a series of changes to improve our performance in future storms, including the creation of protocols to suspend service in harsh conditions and assigning a rider advocate to ensure the safety and comfort of our customers."
But attorney Ayman Aboushi, whose firm has taken on the case pro bono, said that falls short of what needs to happen.
"People are going to get stuck on a train at some point, and it's going to be longer than a few hours," he said. "It happens every year at least a few times. What are you going to do when that happens? Okay, you can shut it down, but what happens when you get blindsided?"
He added: "Agreeing to shut down the system when inclement weather is on the horizon is not a policy."
In August, the MTA took the unprecedented step of shutting down the city's transit system in preparation for Tropical Storm Irene.
Aboushi said the lawsuit aims to force the MTA to put better policies in place. A dollar amount for compensation, if any, would be up to the court.
You can see the lawsuit here (pdf).