New York City's subway problems converge on evening commute, cause chaos

The Queensboro Plaza subway station in New York City on Dec. 11, 2014.
Thursday night's commute on New York City's subways was worse than rush hour — you could call it "commute-ageddon."
According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the trouble began when a power outage hit a group of subway lines, causing signals to go out. Then a fire in a manhole south of West 4th Street damaged more signal cables, which knocked out signals to subway cars, creating hours — yes, hours — of delays.
New York City's subway system uses a signal system that helps drivers operate the trains. Colored lights on the track — red, green, yellow — tell drivers when to go, when to stop and inform drivers when there is a train ahead of them on the same track.
The fire affected the A, B, C, D, E, F, M and R lines, and the power outage affected the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines. For those unfamiliar with New York City's subway system, that is a majority of the lines.
Thousands of miserable commuters were left stranded.
"It took me about [an] hour and a half on what's usually a 3- minute commute," one person toldThe Gothamist. "Once people started getting moving, I ended up walking the last 16 blocks home."

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