Metropolitan Transportation Authority logo

Beating Back the Sixth Storm of Year

Snow fighter in action
Snow fighter in action
Since the beginning of the year, a series of punishing winter storms have slammed into New York City with conveyor-like regularity.  Dumping new snow on top of old, the weather has forced MTA New York City Transit employees to work through the prolonged “polar vortex” that left the metropolitan area in a bone-chilling deep freeze and posed challenges for them and equipment alike.  
To direct the extraordinary storm-fighting effort, the Department of Subways” Incident Command Center has been activated several times this year along with local storm fighting centers throughout the system.  For 24 hours a day during these events, more than 2,000 men and women worked, staffing de-icer trains and snow throwers, making certain switches and signals continued to work as designed, and cleaning and salting station steps and platforms.
“This winter has been one of the busiest storm seasons we can remember, but each time we get a forecast for a winter storm, our employees go out and perform at an extremely high level, keeping service running and the facilities safe for customers,” said NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco.
The storm of February 12th into the 13th dumped more than a foot of snow on Central Park and snarled traffic throughout the region.  Subway snow-fighting equipment was deployed early along outdoor routes with ballasted roadbed and stayed out during the storm.  Of course, matters were complicated in some areas as the fresh snow blanketed several inches of compacted snow still on the ground after recent storms.  In fact, since January 1, more than 50 inches of snow have fallen on the City.
Workers are also paying special attention to clearing snow from outdoor subway yards and track switches.  While the subway portions of the system remained largely unaffected, there are nearly 220 miles of outdoor track around the system and NYC Transit has heavy-duty equipment designed to move snow, melt ice and do anything else required to maintain service during inclement weather.  Routes running along the surface and in open cuts, such as the A Subway Line IconRockaway Line, the N Subway Line Icon Sea Beach, B Subway Line IconQ Subway Line Icon Brighton Line, and the 5 Subway Line IconDyre Ave. Line, are particularly vulnerable to snow and freezing weather.
During a heavy snowstorm, tracks on outdoor subway lines must be cleared often, and the third rail kept free of ice.  Also, the outdoor steps at all 468 subway stations must be shoveled and salted along with the platforms on the outdoor segments of lines.
“Department of Subways’ employees worked diligently to maintain subway service at the high levels of safety and reliability that our customers expect and deserve.  Their dedication to duty and the department’s layered storm-fighting efforts contributed to maintaining service throughout the system despite challenging conditions,” said Joe Leader, Senior Vice President of Subways.