It's Cold Out There! MTA Prepares for Winter

As Old Man Winter bears down on the metropolitan area, the MTA will work even harder to ensure riders get to where they need to go. During inclement weather and snow storms, the MTA will continue to work to provide safe, reliable service throughout the entire transportation network. Last winter MTA personnel battled 10 storms, including five in the month of February alone.


Snow Thrower Photo

MTA New York City Transit's Department of Subways maintains a fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment designed to keep outdoor tracks and the third rail clear of snow and ice during harsh winterweather. The fleet includes super-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow-blowers, and specially-built de-icing cars, all designed to keep service moving. This equipment provides the ability to run trains more often, which also serves as a way to keep tracks clear of snow.


Forecasts of accumulating snow also require NYC Transit to shift the storage locations of subway cars indoors. Also, the outdoor steps at all 468 subway stations must be shoveled and salted along with the platforms on the outdoor segments of lines.

To make traveling easier for bus customers, the Department of Buses has its own fleet of snow fighting equipment, particularly the salt-spreading trucks equipped with plows assigned to each depot. They work in cooperation with the Department of Sanitation to keep bus routes clear and passable.

Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad also maintain a fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment designed to keep outdoor tracks, third rails and catenary wires clear of snow and ice during harsh winter weather. Track switches will be treated with ethylene/propylene glycol (anti-freeze), and switch heaters will be turned on to keep switches moving freely so trains can continue to be routed from one track to another.

Outdoor steps at all commuter rail stations will be shoveled and salted as well.

Bridges &Tunnels is fitting plows onto regular maintenance trucks and salt domes are being filled with tons of deicer. The fleet also includes 45 trucks that have special ground temperature sensors, which provide information about roadway conditions on entrance and exit ramps and other areas that are not covered by embedded roadway sensors. Above-ground atmospheric sensors are also used to help gather real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity and precipitation via wireless communication.

The material used to melt snow and ice is an anti-corrosive deicer with an additive that inhibits corrosion of structural steel on the agency's bridges.

Continue to visit our website for updated information on inclement weather and storm-related service. If you're still not a subscriber, sign up for email alerts by visiting to begin receiving real-time status updates about your subway, bus, rail and/or bridge and tunnel route today.