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Commuter nightmare: Security scare strands thousands in station

January 20, 2012 | 11:28 am


Commuting from New Jersey into Manhattan is never a picnic, but it reached new depths of misery early Friday. A man spotted in a train tunnel prompted a security sweep that stranded thousands of people in a station, many of them on escalators that were halted while officials searched the terminal.

The problem began at the height of rush hour -- about 7:45 a.m. -- in the World Trade Center station serving PATH trains coming into lower Manhattan from New Jersey. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the PATH train service, said a man was seen wandering through one of the tunnels, leading police to close it.

That created a bottleneck at the World Trade Center station, where the escalators were turned off as the massive crowds became too much for the moving stairways to safely accommodate.

Meanwhile, security officials scoured the tunnels and station, arresting the unidentified man spotted walking near the tracks and searching for other possible security breaches. "In the post 9/11 world you don't want to take any chances," Gothamist quoted one security official as saying.

For people caught up in the mess, though, the biggest threat seemed to be the crowded conditions.

"Stuck in WTC Path Station with no way out," one person tweeted. "Literally thousands of ppl waiting to climb the tiny staircase," wrote another. "Amazed no one got hurt (yet)," said a third.

Service eventually was restored.

-- Tina Susman in New York


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Video: Thousands of people try to exit the World Trade Center PATH train station as a security scare shuts down escalators. Credit: Daily News via YouTube