Home Service Advisories Above-ground subway service shutting down at 4 p.m.; bus service suspended at noon

Above-ground subway service shutting down at 4 p.m.; bus service suspended at noon

by Benjamin Kabak
The MTA has published a map of reduced subway service following curtailment of some lines in light of mounting snow totals.  (Click to enlarge)

The MTA has published a map of reduced subway service following curtailment of some lines in light of mounting snow totals. (Click to enlarge)

Update (1:15): The MTA has announced that, as of 4 p.m., subway service on above-ground lines will be halted, but the agency will run limited service underground. This is in line with Transit’s cold weather/snow plan. Keep an eye on MTA.info for updates.

As more snow than expected piles up, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did some governin’ today as he announced that the MTA will be suspending all bus service as of noon on Saturday. Currently 1800 workers are toiling to keep the subways running, and the MTA expects to maintain some service on all lines. It’s possible that outdoor lines — especially those running in trenches rather than along elevated lines — will see service scaled back. The MTA’s winter weather plan is in effect, and there are delays or service changes on nearly every line as nearly all express trains are running local. Weekend work has, of course, been canceled. I’ll update this post as news develops.

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Duke January 23, 2016 - 12:48 pm

The service status widget on the MTA’s website has details for each line if you click through. As of right now it looks like service is suspended on the Brighton and Sea Beach lines (N trains terminating at 59th/4th, Q trains terminating at Whitehall) and the Rockaway Park Shuttle. Nothing saying the 5 to Dyre or the A to Far Rockaway aren’t running but that could change.

Tower18 January 23, 2016 - 1:18 pm

It’s kinda surprising, I hadn’t realized before, but there’s no place to turn Brighton trains between Prospect Park and Times Square. You can switch them to the local at DeKalb and Prince, but that’s it.

So you can’t even run Q trains into Brooklyn to, say, terminate somewhere along Flatbush, because even if you sent them thru the tunnel, they can’t turn around until Prospect Park, which is outside.

You would think they could keep *just* Prospect Park clear of snow enough to turn trains there.

Eric January 23, 2016 - 1:53 pm

Not such a big deal, since all the Q stops on that stretch are more or less served by the R or 2/3.

Chris C January 23, 2016 - 1:01 pm

Well the MTA is a State Agency so the Governor gets to close it down – like he did around this time last year.

Mind didn’t he once say that the MTA wasn’t a state agency because it wasn’t based in Albany?

I guess that the Mayor can close down any services that fall under City control.

j.b. diGriz January 25, 2016 - 10:59 am

I remember reading somewhere that the mayor can shut the subways down by calling a citywide state of emergency, but he can’t keep them open if the governor shuts them down through a state declared emergency.

Stan January 23, 2016 - 1:13 pm

All above ground subway lines will be suspended as of 4:00PM

Likely service patterns to run:

1 – 168 St to South Ferry
2 – 3 Av – 149 St to Flatbush Av via local
3 – 96 St to Utica Av via Local
4 – 149 St – Grand Concourse to Utica Av
5 – Suspended
6 – Hunts Point Av to Brioklyn Bridge
7 – Suspended
A – 207 St to Euclid Av
B – suspended (no weekend service anyway)
C – Normal
D – 205 St to 34 St-Herald Sq, with shuttle service to Grand St from West 4 St
E – Jamaica Center to World Trade Center via local
F – Jamaica-179 St to 2 Av
G – Court Sq to Bedford-Nostrand Av with a shuttle to Hoyt-Schermerhorn
J – suspended
L – 8 Av to Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs
M – suspended
N – 57 St-7 Av to 59 St Brooklyn via Whitehall St
Q – suspended
R – normal service
S – Franklin Av and Rockaway Park suspended: 42 St shuttle Normal
Z – no weekend service

Stan January 23, 2016 - 1:14 pm

1 train will probably run only from 96 St to South Ferry.

Asher January 24, 2016 - 9:40 am

I was wondering about the 168th Street announcement – the train has to go above ground near 125th.

Tower18 January 23, 2016 - 1:29 pm

Can the N turn at 59th without going outside? It doesn’t look like it. Maybe the N has to go to 95th.

Stan January 23, 2016 - 1:58 pm

Looks like Bay Ridge will be getting a service increase
N service will likely go to 95 St

Nick Ober January 23, 2016 - 2:13 pm

Why wouldn’t you turn an F at Church Ave instead of terminating at 2nd Avenue?

Stan January 23, 2016 - 2:25 pm

The F and G trains are above ground at Smith-9 Sts and 4 Av-9 St

Maybe, just maybe, they might run the F to Bergen St, but the G would remain as I stated above

Nick Ober January 23, 2016 - 2:43 pm

Oh gosh, I completely forgot that they go above ground there. Good point.

Stan January 23, 2016 - 3:26 pm


Here’s the map. I was pretty close

JJJ January 23, 2016 - 1:23 pm

What was the service pattern for the 96 storm, which was almost identical?

mister January 25, 2016 - 12:15 pm

I don’t have it, but back then they didn’t shut down anything: they ran it until they couldn’t.

Eric January 23, 2016 - 5:56 pm

Interesting to see how different transit agencies are responding to this.

In Washington DC, everything is shut down.

In Philly, the two main subway lines are running normally, including the above-ground segments, although those parts may shut down if the conditions get too bad.

TimK January 23, 2016 - 10:34 pm

WMATA shut down everything for two reasons:
– DC was forecast to get a lot more snow than New York was forecast to get (things didn’t turn out that way).
– WMATA wanted to do basically what the MTA does — store cars in tunnels — but WMATA doesn’t have express tracks to do that on while maintaining local service.

Eric January 24, 2016 - 12:33 pm

I looked at cold-weather subway systems worldwide:

In Montreal and across Russia, all or nearly all of the system is built underground.

In Toronto, exposed subway tracks have heaters to melt snow.

In Boston, there is rail heating as well as snow plows mounted on the ends of the trains.

adirondacker12800 January 24, 2016 - 1:23 pm

How many days was the T closed after last year’s storm?

Eric January 24, 2016 - 5:28 pm

At least one day, I’m not sure exactly. I should have mentioned that these heaters and snow plows seem to work well for moderate snows, but the biggest snows overwhelm them. In Toronto too.

Duke January 24, 2016 - 9:46 pm

MBTA kind of screwed themselves by making the decision to not run any outdoor train service in advance of a major snowstorm last winter, since moving trains weren’t helping keep the tracks clear. It then took them a while to dig everything out since they weren’t well equipped to do that.

Note that the MTA, even when they had no outdoor revenue service going, was still deadheading trains back and forth on outdoor tracks to help keep them clear. MBTA did not do this.

LarryLittlefield January 24, 2016 - 8:29 pm

Boston’s transit system basically collapsed last winter, and it hasn’t recovered yet.


paulb (nj) January 25, 2016 - 12:09 pm

A little off topic, but within the jump, there was a video for upcoming improvements to London’s underground. Worth a look, but it doesn’t say how they will be paying for these improvements.


Phantom January 23, 2016 - 9:22 pm

This is actually a real good plan – isn’t it what the MTA was supposed to do last year, before Cuomo panicked and shut everything down?

Avi January 24, 2016 - 12:22 am

It’s worse than what the MTA wanted to do. But it’s the plan the MTA put together after Cuomo over reacted and then wanted to look gubernatorial by telling the MTA to put together a plan for the future(ignoring that they had a plan he ignored). The MTA used to run the elevated lines and only shut down street level and trench lines once the snow got too bad there. But now the MTA has to shut down all the outdoor segments except the brief elevated section for the 1 at 125th.

Tower18 January 24, 2016 - 8:24 am

I actually can understand the full aboveground closure in this case. A lot of it likely had to do with being able to redeploy those who would have been responsible for clearing platforms at those now-closed outdoor stations. Snowfall rates of 1-3 inches/hour make it difficult to keep platforms, stairs, etc. clear, so the MTA could see justification for just scrapping it and putting those people to work keeping the rest of the system running.

Case in point, the relay operations for the F and G at Bergen. There’s a switch between tracks on both levels of Bergen, so the G was turned upstairs (in service), the F downstairs (out of service). However, the switch position means the trains needed to be emptied at Bergen (G) or Jay (F), then driven forward past the switch, change ends, then reverse thru the switch back into Bergen (G) or Jay (F). This takes a few extra personnel than regular operations, or at least it did in practice when I was at Bergen last night.

Kai B January 24, 2016 - 10:41 am

Just getting up and down the stairs at below-ground stations was difficult enough. I had to make heavy use of the railing at Nassau (G).

Larry Littlefield January 24, 2016 - 12:10 pm

All in all they did the right thing. I had cynically expected the oscillating stupidity to continue.

a) First they stupidly kept everything running, resulting buses and trains stranded and service disrupted for days.

b) Then they made the call pre-maturely, and looked like idiots when the storm his Boston instead.

I had expected to repeat of a. But they seem to have shut down in time.

LLQBTT January 25, 2016 - 10:13 am

Looks like Gov. Cuomo finally left the MTA alone to implement it’s snow contingency plan, confirming that’s what should be done each and every time, from 1 inch of snow and up.

mister January 25, 2016 - 12:34 pm

What’s a shame here is that we never got to see how the changes that the MTA implemented in the wake of the 2010 storm would have fared.

The 2010 blizzard was the one where multiple trains got stuck, most famously, a A train. After that event, MTA implemented a new level of snow emergency plan where they would shutdown the most problematic segments of the subway system only: A service to Far Rock, the Sea Beach line, much of the Brighton line, the 5 between Dyre and E180 and the portion of the 7 that runs on a viaduct. This would have kept service running in many places where there were large gaps in service (Bronx only had limited 6 service and the D. I concede that the clearing of platforms would have been a challenge, but maybe a targeted approach to keeping things above ground open would have been a better approach to the issue. Much of the elevated network is actually quite resilient to snow storms, and keeping that running would have been a good idea.


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