Yesterday was a harrowing rush hour for commuters heading back to New Jersey. A PATCO train was evacuated after passengers smelled smoke, leaving hundreds of people stranded at the abandoned Franklin Square station just after 5 p.m. Monday. Officials say a short in the motor caused the smoke, though no train cars actually filled with smoke.
The train’s operator was treated with oxygen and taken to the hospital. Passengers were evacuated to another train that picked up the route. Per Action News, some decided to climb out of the Franklin Square station instead and get rides home.
It was the second stoppage for PATCO on Monday: During morning rush hour, a westbound train broke down at 8 a.m. Additionally, the next hour a woman collapsed as the doors to a train opened at the 8th and Market stop. The Courier Post’s Carol Comegno has reaction from passengers, and some of it is excellent:
Jackie Vasinda tweeted this advice to PATCO after the first stoppage: “If you’re only going to run one track over the BFB (Ben Franklin Bridge), then perhaps you should ensure that all of your trains are in working order.”
“I’m on this train. I need a drink,” Alyssa Robertson-Gleaner of Westmont commented beneath an announcement of the afternoon breakdown on PATCO’s Facebook page.
NBC 10 had an appropriately epic graphic for the whole thing:
Lu Ann Cahn’s report also contained some excellent passenger commentary:
The passengers say they sat in the dark, waiting for word on what happened.
“Thank God we had our cell phones,” said Andrew Ludewig, another passenger. “We actually found out what happened through NBC.”
The “ghost station” the passengers were evacuated to is Franklin Square. It was originally built in 1936 and was renovated as a PATCO station in 1976. It closed just three years later due to nobody really using it. (Back then, the Vine Street Expressway didn’t exist, but there weren’t condos across from Franklin Square, either.) There was talk of re-opening the station in 2007 and again in 2009. Railfans were excited, but the station re-opening — slated for 2010 — never happened.