‘Totally surreal’: Blackouts hit LA, New York and San Francisco
Published time: 21 Apr, 2017 21:00
Edited time: 21 Apr, 2017 21:22
A Cable Car sits idle during a citywide power outage on April 21, 2017 in San Francisco © Justin Sullivan / AFP
Power outages hit Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, leaving commuters stranded and traffic backed up Friday. About 90,000 customers were affected in San Francisco.
While the outages occurred around the same time there is no evidence they were connected or coordinated.
The first outage occurred at around 7:20am in New York when the power went down at 7th Avenue and 53rd Street subway station. That sent a shockwave of delays into the rest of the subway system.
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman told AP some passengers were stranded on trains. Some cars were dark except for phone light, and some riders say their commutes took two to three hours. Stations were packed.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a state investigation into the power outrage that ruined Friday's commute for many straphangers.
"The loss of power due to a Con Edison equipment failure during the morning rush hour caused a cascading effect and impacted the lives of thousands of commuters," Cuomo said in a statement. "Simply put, this was completely unacceptable.”
“The @MTA started the weekend early, I guess? Power outage at 53rd & everything is crazy,” one commuter wrote on Twitter.
The weekend is when the MTA does many of its major subway repairs and cuts or reduces subway service.
“It took me an hour and 20 mins to go one stop, give up, find my way out of this mob, then walk back home @MTA,” wrote Liz Baker on Twitter.
By 11:30am, MTA spokesman, Kevin Ortiz, confirmed the generators were running again at the station, and delays were cleared up by the afternoon.
The utility company, Con Edison, said one of its electric lines triggered the outage. Spokesman Allan Drury told AP it is not clear how long the repairs will take or how the failure occurred.
Later in the morning, power outages were reported in Los Angeles International Airport, as well as in several other areas around the city.
In San Francisco, the power outages were widespread.
The utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric, said a series of outages began at 9 am and within 30 minutes about 90,000 customers lost power.
PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said crews are assessing the situation but there's no immediate estimate for when power will be restored.
PGE officials are pointing to a substation fire as the primary cause of the outage, but have given no public estimates as to when power will be restored.
The blackout includes the Financial District, Presidio and stretch to the Marina/Cow Hollow area, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Traffic lights were out at scores of intersections, and cars backed up on downtown streets as drivers grew frustrated and honked at each other.
BART’s Montgomery Station was closed for more than two hours, with trains running through the station without stopping, before the agency reopened it.
All cable cars were down, as were several Muni bus lines that typically run on electricity from overhead wires,. Shuttles were put in place to provide service, according to the Municipal Transportation Agency.
The blackout took out traffic signals, affecting office buildings with residents and workers in the area calling it “totally surreal.”
Twenty-one schools in San Francisco were affected by the outage that affected utilities, including the internet, but they remained open and their schedules adjusted. Families were to be notified if there were changes at the schools.
The Philip Burton Federal Building and US Courthouse were closed down by the outage.
The San Francisco Fire Department said it has responded to more than 100 calls for service since a power outage struck a large area of the city. No injuries were reported.
The department tweeted that the calls included 20 elevators with people stuck inside.
The department adds there have been no delays in responding to calls.
Daisy Prado, a 23-year-old South Bay resident, told the San Francisco Chronicle she was sitting at her desk on the 14th floor of an office building in the Financial District when the power suddenly dropped out. She looked out the window and saw the buildings across the street go dark.
“They told us on an intercom to just stay calm,” Prado said. “People are hanging out the side of their buildings waiting to see what’s going to happen.”
Pacific Gas and Electric’s own outage map shows thousands affected and current estimates indicate that the outage is hitting up to 100,000 customers.
At a 2:00 pm press conference, city officials said 300 traffic signals went still down, with either flashing red or no signals, in the North East section of the San Francisco. The city employed 100 parking patrol officers to help with traffic control.
Drivers were asked to treat intersections as 'Always Stop.'
There had been no reports of traffic collisions.
San Francisco Police Chief, Bill Scott, said "Our major issue is traffic."