The March for Our Lives protest saw nearly 200,000 people gather around Columbus Circle and Central Park West to call for stronger gun legislation, but one thing that didn’t gather in Midtown on Saturday were extra subway trains.
“Not a single extra train was operated to help carry extra people,” a source with knowledge of the situation told the Village Voice. “We had a really tough time running service today because of it. It was frustrating for all of us.”
Organizers were expecting large crowds, but the MTA decided not to run extra trains for the event and even went ahead with planned work that affected the stations closest to the rallying points. Downtown C trains were not stopping at 72nd Street, the main meeting point for the rally. The MTA did send a tweet on Saturday morning warning demonstrators of the service change while also providing a link to a “Special Events” page for the march with further details.
Because of the march’s size and location, there were a plethora of possible stations and lines for demonstrators to use, including Columbus Circle, the 72nd Street Broadway stop, and even Times Square, which likely factored into the MTA’s decision not to add service, given that it regularly runs extra trains for smaller events such as baseball games at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
Consequently, the 1,2, A, and C trains experienced delays “caused by large crowds” from the demonstration, according to the MTA’s official status updates. On a regular Saturday schedule, A and C trains operate approximately every 10 minutes, and 1 and 2 trains every 8 minutes. The delays were officially acknowledged beginning at 11:10 a.m. and continued for 12 hours. Depending on the number of cars, C trains can carry between 1,000 and 1,200 people, so running even a few extra trains during the peak loading and unloading hours could have provided much-needed additional service at those stations.
awful!!! 😡😡 took over an hour to get home and even worse @NYCTSubway ignored my tweet to them asking why it was so bad. Too much crowding and not enough trains. Smfh
— VijayMar (@vijaymaharda12) March 24, 2018
— vanshnookenraggen (@vanshnook) March 24, 2018
@NYCTSubway i am trying to get home from the March for our lives protest and have had to let by FOUR consecutive D trains at 34 st because it is too crowded to board. Why do you guys drop the ball EVERY weekend, especially when thereS a big event like this? @NYGovCuomo #CuomosMTA
— Mark bliss (@Markbliss18) March 24, 2018
— Akam (@Akaminstein1) March 24, 2018
An MTA spokesperson said uptown A trains were instructed to run local from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to supplement regular C service. The authority also deployed approximately 40 employees to platforms at nearby stops to assist with crowd management.
Not everyone had an especially rough journey, with many experiencing trips akin to rush hour-level crowding. One Twitter user mused that the service was “like a typical weekday. You know, ‘good service.’ ”