Subway changes for the blizzard? The MTA gears up for whiteout

Posted at 12:13 AM, Feb 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-08 16:43:43-05

City Council called MTA officials to a hearing Thursday about platform safety. The MTA testified about the public awareness campaign and the problems with platform doors and slowing down trains. The Transport Workers Union believes slowing down trains and adding additional trains would solve any potential crowding problems.

The MTA’s Winter Weather Plan also went into effect as the city prepared for the storm. Emergency Operation Centers are open. The morning commute is expected to be normal. Additional trains will be added for the evening commute and decisions about changing or canceling service will be reviewed. Snow removal equipment is ready to go.

Here’s transit info from Governor Cuomo’s office:

MTA New York City Transit’s Department of Subways is mobilizing its fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment designed to keep outdoor tracks and the third rail clear of snow and ice during harsh winter weather. The fleet includes super-powered snow throwers, 10 jet-powered snow-blowers, and five specially-built de-icing cars, all designed to keep service moving. Diesel fleet trains are also being made available to clear snow from the right of way—while not carrying passengers. Forecasts of accumulating snow may also require NYC Transit to shift the storage locations of subway cars indoors. The outdoor steps at subway stations will shoveled and salted along with the platforms on the outdoor segments of lines.

  • The Department of Buses has and is deploying its own fleet of snow fighting equipment, including 28 salt-spreading trucks equipped with plows assigned to each depot to maintain the flow of buses. They work in cooperation with the Department of Sanitation to keep bus routes clear and passable. Buses will be equipped when necessary with weather-appropriate tire chains.
  • Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road will deploy fleets of snow and ice-busting equipment to keep outdoor tracks, third rails and catenary wires clear of snow and ice during harsh winter weather. Track switches will be treated with antifreeze 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 pretreated to prevent snow and ice build-up and shoveled as necessary. More than 3,000 staff will be on call, ready to operate equipment from snow blowers and chainsaws to heavy trucks and front-end loaders. Equipment includes jet engines mounted on rail cars to blow snow from tracks at high speeds.
    · MTA 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. In addition, the scheduled weekend-long closure at the Queens Midtown Tunnel for post-Sandy construction work has been cancelled due to the impending storm.

In addition, Bridges and Tunnels has on hand:

o Nearly 7,500 tons of deicer on hand;
o Fleet of 98 snow and ice-fighting vehicles;
o Fleet comprised of vehicles that do double-duty, serving as regular maintenance trucks during normal weather and snow plows and conveyors when in snow fighting mode;
o Some 45 vehicles equipped with ground temperature sensors that tell personnel if the roadway is in danger of freezing. The operator then spreads additional deicer where it is needed and;
o MTA crossings also have imbedded roadway sensors and above-ground atmospheric sensors that deliver real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity and precipitation. These sensors record data used to determine if speed restrictions are necessary to keep the nearly 800,000 vehicles that use the MTA’s 7 bridges and 2 tunnels daily.
o Some 175 additional staff on duty throughout the storm.

  • The Port Authority is putting steps in place in preparation for the first major winter snowstorm of the year. The agency is deploying extra personnel at its facilities and assembling snow equipment in advance of the wintry conditions expected to hit the region on Friday and into Saturday morning.
    · The Port Authority will deploy additional staff at its airports, seaports, tunnels, bridges PATH system and bus terminals. Key personnel are already on notice to work overnight to monitor conditions at each of the agency’s facilities.
    · Preparations for the approaching storm include fueling all vehicles, ensuring fully stocked salt supplies, and having snowplows, shovels and other snow equipment at the ready. The Port Authority’s winter weather arsenal includes:

o More than 200 snow and ice equipment at its airports, including melters that can liquefy up to 500 tons of snow an hour and plows that can clear snow at 40 mph;
o Approximately 60 pieces of snow equipment at the bridges and tunnels, including 28 trucks equipped with plows and spreaders at the George Washington Bridge, the world’s busiest vehicular crossing;
o More than 2,000 tons of salt and more than 1,500 tons of sand for airport roads and parking lots, plus more than 2,000 tons of salt for the bridges and tunnels, specifically 500 tons of salt at the George Washington Bridge and 200 tons at the Holland Tunnel;
o Approximately 300,000 gallons of liquid anti-icer chemicals at the airports, which prevent snow and ice from bonding to runways and taxiways, plus approximately 1,700 tons of solid de-icers, which break up snow and ice already on the ground;
o Plow-equipped trains, liquid snow-melting agent trains and a “jet engine” plow to remove snow from tracks, and snow blowers. Plows and spreaders to clear station entrances, roads that serve PATH’s 13 stations, and various support facilities; and
o Approximately 1,000 staff members and contractors with years of specialized training and professional experience in handling severe winter weather at transportation facilities.

  • The Port Authority urges travelers to check with their carriers before going to the airport or bus terminals to confirm departure times. The agency also may impose speed restrictions on its crossings if weather conditions warrant.