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December 27, 2012

NYC, NJ Transit prep for first round of winter weather

With the forecast of this season's first winter storm, New York City Transit's Departments of Subways and Buses are following well-established plans designed to keep the city's transit services operating smoothly.

The timely deployment of personnel and equipment are key to maintaining service, but the agency has also created a Winter Weather Travel Guide aimed at keeping customers of all MTA services — New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Rail Road and Bridge & Tunnels — in the know.

Preparing for a Nor'easter and expected high tides, NYC Transit staged three pump trains and one work train with portable pumps to deal with possible flooding in locations throughout the system. No. 3 train service will terminate at 137th Street and Broadway to allow for the erection of a portal wall to prevent water from entering the system at 148th Street. System-wide, additional personnel and specialized equipment will be on to respond to emergencies.

The Winter Weather Travel Guide, posted throughout the system, lets MTA customers know just what to expect from their subway, bus, paratransit or commuter rail service should the weather turn nasty.

However, to keep foul weather service problems to a minimum, NYC Transit's Department of Subways has a fleet of snow-fighting and de-icing equipment designed to keep outdoor tracks, switches and third rails clear of snow and ice. The fleet includes super-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow-blowers, and de-icing cars ready for immediate deployment whenever there is a prediction of snowy weather as well as switch and third rail heaters that help melt ice and snow before it accumulates at critical locations throughout our system.

Realizing that forecasts can quickly change, personnel in the Subway Rail Control Center and Bus Command Center continually monitor the U.S. National Weather Service and have direct access to a customized weather prediction service that provides regularly updated forecasts focusing on New York City. Adequate forewarning of a snow event allows us to decide whether to hold workers after their shifts and bring others in prior to the beginning of their scheduled workday.

When heavy winter weather is in the forecast, New York City Transit is put on a foul weather footing, with the agency fine-tuning the winter plan, and deploying employees and machines in order to keep subway and bus service operating as close to normal as possible.

While the subway portions of the system remain unaffected during snowstorms, there are nearly 220 miles of outdoor track throughout the four boroughs and NYC Transit has heavy-duty equipment designed to move snow, melt ice and do anything else that must be done to maintain service during inclement weather.

Meanwhile, NJ Transit is mobilizing its operations, customer service and police personnel across the state to keep the system running smoothly and minimize delays.

To give customers additional travel options during expected inclement weather conditions, the agency will offer full system wide cross-honoring starting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, and continuing until the end of the service day Thursday, enabling NJ Transit customers to use their ticket or pass on an alternate travel mode — rail, bus or light rail.

NJ Transit is taking the following steps to handle the impending winter weather:

  • Snow plows and salt spreaders are ready for service and snow-removal contracts are in place with outside vendors.
  • Stocking 16,000 bags of snow-melting supplies, and hundreds of shovels and snow blowers.
  • Performing maintenance and testing on its two rail-mounted jet snow blowers in the event they are needed to help clear train tracks of snow and ice, particularly in rail yards.
  • More than 750 rail switches, switch heaters and overhead wires were inspected as part of NJ Transit’s preventive maintenance program.
  • Onboard heating systems, thermostats, weather stripping and electronic components have been inspected on NJ Transit railcars and locomotives.
  • Bus maintenance personnel have inspected and performed necessary maintenance on a fleet of nearly 2,200 buses - from the heating and airbrake systems, to the engine fluids, tires, windshield wipers and doors.
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