AirTrain accidentally diverted, Port Authority reviews system

By Courtney Dentch

About a dozen passengers aboard the Kennedy Airport AirTrain were accidentally diverted from the shuttle’s normal route to the Howard Beach station to a storage yard last month, a Port Authority spokesman said.

The Feb. 12 incident prompted an overview of the transit system, which runs cars without operators on board, and the disciplining of two employees of Bombardier, the Montreal-based transportation giant that operates the system, said Pasquale DiFulco, a spokesman for the Port Authority.

The train was headed for the Howard Beach station of the line about 10 p.m. Feb. 12 when it was inadvertently diverted to a maintenance yard near the Lefferts Boulevard stop, DiFulco said. The train’s doors also opened, leaving passengers exposed to the electrified third rail, he said.

No one was injured in the incident, and the train returned to its normal route immediately, DiFulco said. A Bombardier supervisor and an operator, who directs the train from a central control center, were suspended pending an investigation.

“It’s unacceptable and the Port Authority deeply regrets any inconvenience to airport passengers or employees,” he said.

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