A controversial New York City subway line was shut down after passengers reportedly fainted from strong fumes

  • Two passengers fainted after breathing in fumes in a New York City subway train, the New York Daily News first reported Tuesday.
  • The line was closed for hours while crews worked to find the source of the smell.
  • The L train has been a hot-button issue for straphangers recently after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a surprise announcement in January that the subway line wouldn’t have to close for 15 months as planned.

A major New York City subway line between Manhattan and Brooklyn was closed Tuesday after two passengers reportedly fainted while inhaling a noxious smell.

Service for the L train – one of the most advanced, but also one of the most hated trains in the NYC subway system – was suspended between the two boroughs Tuesday afternoon after track workers saw an unknown substance “bubbling” up at a Brooklyn station, according to the New York Daily News.

A Business Insider reporter confirmed it smelled like “straight gasoline” for her past three rides on the L train.

“Our safety checks have found that the air is currently safe,” New York City Transit, which runs the subway, said in a service advisory. “But we need to correct and resolve the condition before restoring service.”

Passengers were advised to consider alternate trains or buses, which could cause a headache for rush-hour commuters if the problem is not fixed. The L train carries roughly 250,000 passengers every day through several neighbourhoods that don’t have many other subway options.

Tuesday’s incident could also complicate the state agency’s plans to fix the L train’s tunnels under the East River, which were badly damaged six years ago in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The original plan was to shutter the line for 15 months. However, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a surprise announcement in January that the repairs could be possible through night and weekend closures, which would allow for daytime service for commuters.

TWU Local 100, a union that represents subway workers, said it pulled crews from three stations.

“L train riders need answers, not only about this morning’s incident but also about how Governor Cuomo will guarantee that, if his L train construction plan happens, riders won’t ever have to worry that fumes leftover from overnight work will make them sick,” the Riders Alliance advocacy group said in a statement.

“Without additional subway and priority bus service between Brooklyn and Manhattan, traffic L-pocalypse is still a real threat,” it added.

The L train is no stranger to odd fumes. A few years ago, a sewage leak near Brooklyn’s Myrtle-Wyckoff station reeked for months.

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