NEW YORK — A candidate for mayor of New York, who also is former head of the city’s subway system, said he wouldn’t have stopped the subway because two lost kittens were scrambling along the tracks.
On Thursday, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) cut power on two Brooklyn subway lines for more than an hour as the two pets scurried around the tracks. The cats were rescued about seven hours later.
A spokesman for Joe Lhota, ex-chairman of the MTA and mayoral candidate, told The New York Post Friday that shutting down subway service for lost cats is not appropriate.
Other mayoral hopefuls told the paper they would’ve stopped the trains.
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Officials say kittens Arthur and August are being treated in a shelter.
Power was cut to the B and Q lines in Brooklyn after a woman reported Thursday morning that her kittens were loose in the nation’s largest subway system, transit officials said.
How they got there was a mystery. But they were seen running dangerously close to the high-voltage third rail.
Their owner rushed to a subway station with cat food for transit workers dispatched onto the tracks to use to try to corral them.
Power was suspended between several stops — about half the Q line and the B line’s entire service in Brooklyn — on the local and express tracks for 90 minutes, MTA spokeswoman Judie Glave said.
But the skittish kittens disappeared again before being discovered Thursday evening under the third rail of an aboveground express track. Police officers removed the kittens in crates, Glave said.
Some passengers wanted to help by scouring the tracks, but were turned down by MTA workers citing safety concerns.
While the effort on behalf of the kittens created delays for passengers, the Q operated a shuttle service between two of its normal Brooklyn stops, said transit officials, who couldn’t immediately provide the cost of the extra service.
In the past, New York City has been known to grow invested in tales of cat rescue. Many cheered on Jack the Cat, lost in a baggage area at Kennedy International Airport in 2011, but found two months later on site. Then there was Willow, a calico from Colorado, who turned up on Manhattan’s East Side five years after escaping from home.
But the circumstances Thursday presented a wrinkle: It is easy to root for a search that has little downside; one that snarls train service is another matter.
“I’m pro-cat,” Alex Davies, a reporter for Business Insider, posted on Twitter, “but this is absurd.”
The authority said that animals like dogs and raccoons occasionally disrupted service. Three weeks ago, a small shark was found aboard a Queens-bound N train, bewildering passengers in Manhattan. But the train completed its run to Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard.
Gene Russianoff, a lawyer, said the decision to shut down service was understandable given the time of day.
But he noted that not all creatures of the rails would be afforded the same treatment.
“For the rats,” he said, “they probably speed up the train.”