Major Power Outages In New York City, San Francisco Come Amid Worries About Failing Infrastructure

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Major power outages caused chaos on mass transit systems in both New York and San Francisco Friday, with parts of both cities’ systems still suffering ongoing outages or delays into the pre-weekend afternoon commute.

The outages occurred on the heels of an Infrastructure Report Card that gave poor grades to both mass transit and power systems across the country.

In New York, platforms were packed and riders were stuck underground in the dark when an outage in Midtown Manhattan backed up trains all over the city Friday morning. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a Con Edison equipment failure knocked out signals, escalators, communications and lights at the station.

Hundreds of riders were packed inside a D train when it got stuck in a tunnel just short of the subway stop at Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street after the signals lost power around 7:30 a.m.

Con Edison brought in temporary generators as crews made repairs. At one point, red tape blocked the entrance to the 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue station, where two police officers redirected subway riders while the power was out, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.

A continent away in San Francisco, a power outage forced the closure of the busy Montgomery BART Station, and also knocked out traffic lights and cable car lines. The Montgomery station is a key stop all BART lines coming into the city.

A fire broke out at a utility substation and vault facility in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District Friday. It was not known if that was the source of the outage, CBS San franscisco reported.

Numerous tweets Friday noted that New York and San Francisco were experiencing major power outages in the same day – some with snide remarks, others with fear.


Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated the nation’s energy system with a D+, and the mass transit system with a D-.

The organization’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card noted that much of the U.S. energy system dates back before the turn of the 20th century, and most electric transmission and distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and ’60s with a now-exceeded life expectancy of 50 years.

“Without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks, and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions,” the report warned.

Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Report Card also said chronically underfunded mass transit systems have resulted in aging infrastructure and a $90 billion rehabilitation backlog.

The report noted that American transit systems carried 10.5 billion passenger trips in 2015 – up 33 percent from 1995. But the report said 10 percent of the nation’s city bus fleet and 3 percent of the nation’s rail fleet are not in a “state of good repair.”

The report specified that older heavy rail systems in several cities – including New York and San Francisco – are “confronting the challenges and consequences of rider demand, years of deferred maintenance, and chronic funding problems.”

On energy, the report called for a federal policy that acknowledges future demands, and for policies that allow for the construction of new transmission lines.

On transportation, the report called for more investment at all levels of government to fix the deferred maintenance crisis, and also called for reliable federal funding through a higher motor fuels tax.

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