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MTA’s Buses Face Bitter Weather Conditions Head-on

The second snowstorm of the year and the prolonged cold snap that followed continue to pose a challenge to the smooth operation of the City’s buses.  Faced with temperatures struggling to break out of the teens, workers of the MTA’s City-wide bus operations, however, are gaining traction in their efforts to keep customers moving.

New York City is a town that boasts a varied topography, much of it difficult to negotiate once roads get slick from fallen snow or icy precipitation.  The MTA’s main mission is getting riders to their destinations safely and, to that end, employees and equipment are well prepared.  In fact, Bus Operating training includes time on a simulator that effectively mimics the actions of a bus being driven on snow.

To keep the buses moving, work began before the storm hit.  Bus depots around the city dedicated forces to chain the drive wheels of buses, an effort that takes anywhere from 36 to 48 hours to complete.  As buses come in off the road they are equipped with the traction devices, fueled, inspected and then sent back out on their routes.  By mid-day Tuesday, 600 articulated buses and 2,000 standard, 40-foot buses were equipped for the elements.

“It is a full court press to get everything ready for the arrival of a predicted storm.  More than two and a half million customers depend on us every day, no matter what the weathercast says, and we work as hard as we can to earn that trust,” said Darryl Irick, President MTA Bus/SVP NYC Transit, Department of Buses.

The fast-falling snow, icy buildup on some streets, and bone chilling temperatures did manage to strand a small number of buses.  These buses were quickly moved by a force of well-trained maintainers and a fleet of tow vehicles.  Heavy traffic conditions also contributed to slower service.  However, we communicate these issues to customers through our website, email and text alerts, and through social media.

To ensure adequate personnel for service after the storm, we communicate with the employees and the unions to keep them informed of our service requirements. Employees are held over so that they are available for the next rush period.