The MTA network has assumed a storm-fighting posture in response to the severe weather forecast that is predicting frigid temperatures, high winds and snow accumulation of a foot or more. It is possible that this weather event could require suspension of some portions of the region's subway, bus and commuter train operations.
“We are taking this forecast extremely seriously and began preparations throughout the MTA service area well in advance of the storm's arrival,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, the MTA's Interim Executive Director. “If weather conditions require, there is the possibility that we will suspend some subway, bus or commuter rail services to ensure the safety of our customers.”
New York City Transit
The Department of Subways has prepped and deployed its fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment. These specially-designed rail cars and trains are run to keep outdoor tracks, switches and the electrified third rail clear of snow and ice. The fleet includes snow throwers, jet-powered snow-blowers, and de-icing cars which spray a solution that clears ice from the electrified third rail.
Beginning at the end of this evening's (Friday) rush period, subway trains not required for service will be stored underground along express tracks around the system. This action is necessary to prevent them from being blocked in yards by drifting snow. However, it will mean the early suspension of some express service on some lines.
Due to the inclement weather, all weekend work has been cancelled. However, to protect trains underground, 7 service will operate between Main Street and Queensboro Plaza only, with a train shuttle between Queensboro Plaza and Vernon-Jackson Avenues, but no 7 service in Manhattan, where the 42nd Street Shuttle will operate through the night. This operation begins around midnight tonight and will end when trains can be returned to their normal storage locations in Corona Yard.
NYC Transit will hold workers after their shifts and bring others in prior to the beginning of their scheduled workday to insure adequate personnel for snow fighting duties. Personnel in the Subway Rail Control Center and Bus Command Center have been monitoring the U.S. National Weather Service for the past several days and have direct access to a customized weather prediction service that provides regularly updated forecasts focusing on New York City.
While the subway portions of the system remain relatively unaffected during snowstorms, there are nearly 220 miles of outdoor track throughout the boroughs and NYC Transit has heavy-duty snow fighting equipment deployed to vulnerable route portions, such as the Sea Beach N, Brighton BQ and the Dyre Avenue 5 Lines.
Elevated lines do not have the problem of snow build up as the flakes fall between the ties, but platforms and staircases still must be kept clear of snow and salted to melt ice, and it takes a small army of employees to perform this task.
The Department of Buses has its own fleet of snow fighting equipment, including the plow-equipped, salt-spreading trucks assigned to each depot. They work in cooperation with the Department of Sanitation to keep heavily traveled bus routes clear and passable. Also, during heavy snowstorms, the Department of Sanitation assigns a supervisor to the Bus Command Center as a liaison.
The Department of Buses deploys additional personnel to help keep bus stops clear of ice and snow and manpower and equipment are strategically placed to respond to any problems buses may encounter on the road. Some bus models are equipped with chains and special attention is paid to hilly routes which could pose problems.
Long Island Rail Road
Long Island Rail Road is urging customers in New York City to plan to leave for eastbound trips in the early afternoon, before the brunt of the forecast snowstorm begins to hit the region.
For the safety of customers, the LIRR will suspend service if snow accumulations reach between 10-13 inches. Crews will be out in force to clear tracks and the third rail used to power electric trains.
“We urge LIRR customers to take advantage of our extra afternoon eastbound service and leave the city early before the worst of the storm hits,” said LIRR President Helena Williams. “This is a serious storm, so it's best to get home early and avoid traveling as conditions worsen.”
In order to assist customers traveling in the afternoon, the LIRR will supplement the usual weekday schedule with eight additional eastbound departures. More information is available here: http://mta.info/supplemental/lirr/ExtraTrainsAheadOfNemo.htm
Metro North Railroad
The predicted severity of the winter storm today will require Metro-North to change its scheduled service. These changes are in anticipation of providing the best service to ensure your safety.
There will be extra trains during the early afternoon to help customers return home before the brunt of the storm. This schedule will result in reduced service during the PM peak. Train combinations and cancellations are possible at any time, but increase in likelihood as the evening progresses to prevent trains from becoming stranded during the storm.
More information is available here: http://mta.info/supplemental/mnr/mnr_weather_info.html
Bridges and Tunnels
Motorists are asked to allow extra travel time and operate at reduced speeds due to wet roadways. As the storm intensifies, high winds and white out conditions may result in intermittent bridge or ramp closures. Certain vehicles, including motorcycles, tractor trailers, step vans, mini buses, trucks with open backs, cars pulling trailers, motorhomes, and vehicles carrying plate glass, may be temporarily barred from using MTA crossings due to high winds and wet roadways. Check the Service Status box at www.mta.info for the latest information.