W train suspended as MTA grapples with worker shortages related to COVID-19 spike

The W train went out of service Wednesday because the MTA didn’t have enough crew to run it.

MTA New York City Transit announced the W train’s suspension in a tweet at 6:44 a.m. on Dec. 29, the heart of the morning rush, affecting commuters who rely on the local line between Astoria, Queens and the southern tip of Manhattan. 

“Like everyone in New York, we’ve been affected by the COVID surge,” New York City Transit wrote in the tweet. “We’re running as much train service as we can with the operators we have available.”

Those seeking alternates to the W were advised to use the R line in Manhattan and the N line in Queens. 

The W wasn’t the only train affected by worker shortages during Wednesday morning’s commute. The Z train, which offers supplemental rush hour service along the J line between Jamaica, Queens and Lower Manhattan, was also scrapped in the morning, with all J trains operating local service instead.

It’s not clear, at this point, when the W and Z trains will be back up and running. 

“The MTA is operating 24/7 service to all stations and keeping customers informed in real time about any adjustments from normal schedules,” said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan. “As always, customers should check for service updates and real-time arrival information at MTA.info, the MYmta app, digital screens at stations, or on social media, and should sign up for service alerts via text or email at mymtaalerts.com.”

The MTA also warned commuters that they might wait longer for A, E, G and R trains on Dec. 29 for the same reason — not enough crew available to man the lines.

None of these changes is all that surprising. On Sunday, New York City Transit warned in a now-pinned tweet that commuters this week should expect service disruptions due to worker shortages. Service on some lines was reduced in order to reallocate train crews as required. 

The authority said it was taking “proactive steps” to ensure adequate service, but made clear to riders that they’d might experience some inconveniences in getting around this holiday-shortened week.

On Monday, acting MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber told WINS radio that positive tests within the MTA “have gone up dramatically,” but that the authority was taking various steps to keep subways running — including “inviting retirees to come back to work” and offering “incentives for people to delay vacations during the holiday season.”

As of Dec. 27, the MTA reported that positivity rates were about 2% less than the citywide average, which the state reported on Sunday was 12.63%. Moreover, 98% of MTA workers were in compliance with the vax-or-test policy, the authority reported on Dec. 27.

Get the latest information on subway service online at mta.info or by downloading the MyMTA app. Following the NYC Transit account on Twitter is also helpful.