Special Report: How the MTA Prepares for Each Round of Snow

Special Report: How the MTA Prepares for Each Round of Snow

BoroPark24 Staff

Following fast on the heels of the first snowfall of 2024, the new weekend snowstorm was kept well under control by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), who shared with BoroPark24 how they go about keeping customers and employees safe while delivering as much reliable service as possible during extreme winter weather events.

Preparing For a Snow Storm:

For the MTA, the work doesn't begin when commuters see the white snow blanketing the region or even when the first snowflakes begin their descent. Long before either happen, the MTA team has already sprung into action. As soon as the first hints of snow show up on the weather forecast, the MTA  gets ready to respond.

For starters, MTA employees were deployed throughout the operating region, spreading salt and clearing surfaces of snow, keeping signals, switches, and third rails operating, and attending to any weather-related challenges.

Protective heat circuits were verified before the storm was operational, air brake lines were purged of moisture to prevent them from freezing, and electric trains were fitted with special third rail shoes to prevent snow from accumulating. The switches used for interlocking tracks that allow rail traffic controllers to route trains from one track to another – used electric switch heaters to melt snow. 

While the underground portions of the subway system remain unaffected during rain and snow storms, there are nearly 220 miles of outdoor track throughout the boroughs.  

"New York City Transit pumps millions of gallons of water out of the system every day, and our employees are uniquely qualified to respond quickly to any weather-related issues such as significant water intrusion and wind," said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. "NYC Transit crews are in the system ahead of this storm, ensuring that we are prepared to react to any emergency."

During the Snow Storm:

Once the storm hits home, big or small, the MTA employees spring into action - following a detailed protocol written way before and giving each crew member a designated job and task to fulfill - making sure the wheels beneath New York are up and running.

NYC Transit's Department of Subways keeps a fleet of emergency response equipment, including emergency trucks, deployable pumps, debris trains, pump trains, and de-icer trains, ready to deploy and respond to flooding or icy conditions. Field personnel inspect and clean vents at flood-prone locations, and personnel are staged at critical locations, including stations and yards, ready to deploy and respond to flooding conditions.

Throughout the storm, MTA personnel monitor routes for known flooding situations and have detours prepared. Extra personnel are on standby in the event of service disruptions or subway shutdowns.   

All bus facilities have their roof drains checked to ensure they are clear of debris, and any loose materials are secured. Emergency generators are checked and are ready in the event of a power outage.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels personnel activated full inclement weather preparedness for all facilities before the storm, and the Operations Command Center Weather Desk monitored the forecast. Staff  coordinated ahead of the storm, ensuring a quick response to any weather-related issues that arose  

Bridges equipped with embedded roadway sensors that measure temperature and above-ground atmospheric sensors delivered real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity, and precipitation via wireless communication. The MTA is then able to put restrictions in place if weather conditions warrant.

All in all, Boro Park was in good hands for weathering the storm with the MTA.

photo credit: MTA / Patrick Cashin, Marc A. Hermann

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