With Sunday’s winter storm expected to bring 6 to 10 inches of snow, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today detailed agency-wide preparations being made to keep customers and employees safe while delivering as much reliable service as possible. All local buses will be fitted with chains for Sunday’s storm. Pedestrian walkways will be closed and a 35-mph speed restriction will be in place on all MTA bridges.
The MTA urges customers to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel during the storm. MTA employees will be spreading salt and clearing surfaces of snow and ice, keeping signals, switches, and third rail operating; will remove any downed trees that may fall across tracks; and will attend to any weather-related challenges during the storm.
“Crews at New York City Transit are well-prepared for this storm and will be in place to keep tracks and stations clear of snow and ice,” said Demetrius Crichlow, Acting Executive Vice President, New York City Transit Department of Subways. “While we encourage riders to avoid non-essential travel, the system will be running for those who need it. Express service may be impacted by snow and wind, so customers are encouraged to check for service changes before they travel.”
“Although we are not expecting as much snow as we saw last weekend, we are prepared and have been coordinating with our partners at the New York City Department of Sanitation to make sure that bus routes are passable and bus stops are usable,” said Craig Cipriano, President of the MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President for Buses, MTA New York City Transit. “We will carefully monitor roadway conditions and urge customers to check new.mta.info or our apps for the latest service updates before traveling.”
New York City Subway and Staten Island Railway
While the underground portions of the subway system remain unaffected during snowstorms, there are nearly 220 miles of outdoor track throughout the boroughs. The Rockaway , Sea Beach , Flushing , Brighton and Dyre Av lines are particularly vulnerable to snow and freezing precipitation. To prevent subway trains from being blocked in yards, they may be moved and stored underground in anticipation of heavy snow or ice.
New York City Transit has a fleet of snow and ice-fighting trains designed to keep outdoor tracks, switches and third rails clear of snow and ice. High-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow-blowers, and de-icing cars – retired subway cars modified with tanks and other specialized equipment to spray de-icing fluid on the third rail – are ready for immediate deployment. Additional employees will be at stations and in yards to assist with snow response.
New York City Buses
Articulated buses throughout the city will be parked for the event until storm passes and local buses will be used. All local buses will be fitted with chains.
Bus managers have technology that tracks headways and service in real time allowing them to make service related decisions more efficiently. Bus service will be adjusted based on road conditions around the city and service curtailments on a route-by-route basis are possible.
New York City Transit and the MTA Bus Company have 35 snow-fighting vehicles in its fleet, which operate on predetermined routes to quickly reach terminals, lay-over locations, and other highly trafficked areas and known hotspots.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels
MTA Bridges and Tunnels personnel have activated full inclement weather preparedness for all facilities and the Operations Command Center Weather Desk will monitor the forecast. A 35-mph speed restriction on all MTA Bridges will be implemented once the storm begins.
Bridges and Tunnels will be closing its pedestrian walkways as of 11:00 p.m. Saturday on the Henry Hudson Bridge, Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and the Cross Bay Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.
Over 7,000 tons of roadway deicer and 115 pieces of storm fighting equipment readied and available for deployment.
Bridges are equipped with embedded roadway sensors for temperature and above-ground atmospheric sensors that deliver real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity and precipitation via wireless communication. Additional restrictions may be put in place if conditions warrant. All non-critical roadwork will be suspended during the storm with contractors on-site and/or available to assist with weather-related response.
Any flooding conditions will be closely monitored and appropriate mitigation measures will be put into place as needed.
Metro-North Rail Road will operate on a regular Sunday schedule. Customers should anticipate scattered delays due to the weather.
Metro-North is closely monitoring conditions and may further modify or suspend service if snowfall is heavy. In ice storms, blizzards, or sustained winds over 39 mph, train service may be severely curtailed or suspended, especially if there are frozen switches, downed trees, or a loss of third rail or overhead catenary power.
Snow-fighting equipment is winterized, tested, and strategically positioned at facilities around the system. Protective heat circuits are being verified to be operational, air brake lines are being purged of any moisture to prevent them from freezing, and electric trains are being fitted with special third rail shoes to prevent snow from accumulating.
Metro-North Railroad installed third rail scraper shoes on its electric trains to clear snow/ice off electrified third rails, is shrouding exposed train couplers with snow covers, is treating exposed shoes with deicer, and is spraying door panels with anti-freeze agent.
Switches – the interlocking tracks that allow rail traffic controllers to route trains from one track to another – are being treated with an anti-freeze agent and lubricated. Metro-North Railroad uses electric switch heaters to melt snow.
Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR is closely monitoring weather forecasts as the upcoming storm nears its service area, and is planning to run normal schedules throughout the duration of the storm. If snowfall becomes heavy, delays and/or service changes (including temporary suspensions), may occur. Typically, in ice storms, blizzards, or sustained winds over 39 mph, train service may be severely curtailed or suspended, especially if there are frozen switches or there is a loss of third rail power.
Railroad crews will be out across the service territory working to keep trains moving for those who need them. De-icing trains will be running to keep rails clear of snow and ice, while crews will be strategically positioned throughout the system helping to keep switches clear and operable.
There is still a great amount of snow on the ground across Long Island from last week’s storm, and the addition of more snow coupled with high winds may lead to drifting snow. Our crews will be at the ready to respond to such conditions.
With more snow on the way and colder weather approaching, LIRR station waiting rooms will be open 24/7 starting this Monday, February 08, 2021, with normal station waiting room hours resuming on Monday, February 15, 2021.
Those who must travel are urged to be cautious on station staircases / platforms and when boarding / exiting trains. Customers are encouraged to check the LIRR TrainTime app, MyMTA app, or new.mta.info. Customers can chat live with LIRR customer service agents daily from 06:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. through the LIRR TrainTime app for any service-related questions.
Access-A-Ride paratransit will continue to provide service. Trips will be non-shared ride and feeder service is suspended. Customers may experience additional delays and wait times. Customers may want to consider adjusting or canceling their travel plans. The Paratransit Command Center will be monitoring the storm to track and respond to any customer or day of service issues.
Real-Time Service Updates
Customers should check new.mta.info as well the MYmta app for updates and modified emergency schedules, as well as the LIRR Train Time and Metro-North Train Time apps for the commuter railroads.