Home Service Advisories Transit implements inclement weather plan

Transit implements inclement weather plan

by Benjamin Kabak

As a storm that could dump 15 inches of snow on New York City heads our way, New York City Transit has implemented its inclement winter weather plan as of the end of rush hour tonight. For straphangers, this means longer commutes and fewer trains as the agency will shut down some lines within the next 90 minutes and run others local for the duration of the storm.

For riders relying on the B, V and W trains, get thee to a subway. The last B trains will leave Brighton Beach and 145th St. tonight at 7:10 p.m. and 7:35 p.m. respectively. The last V trains will leave 2nd Ave. and 71-Continental Aves. at 9:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. respectively. The last W trains will leave Whitehall St. at 7:28 p.m. and Ditmars Boulevard at 7 p.m. Additionally, the 6 will run local in the Bronx.

For now, Transit offers up the following weather service changes. As snow drifts build up, more lines could see service scaled back or delayed.

  • trains may run local for portions of their route.
  • The will end service earlier than normal. Customers can take the instead.
  • 42nd St. runs all night.
  • Rockaway Park extends to Euclid Ave.
  • service between Court Sq and 71-Continental Aves. will be suspended.
  • All service in the Bronx may be local.

The MTA has published a special Winter Weather edition of their homepage and are urging travelers to check the web before heading underground. Their site will have real-time info on service delays and changes as the snow storm unfolds. The snow-fighting equipment is ready to go; now, all we need is some snow.

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Anon February 9, 2010 - 8:48 pm

They just need to invent a bus that can work just as well in snow as on land

Scott E February 9, 2010 - 10:00 pm

I’m really impressed. The LIRR already has told us which trains will be cancelled or combined tomorrow (it’s now 10pm on Tuesday), and they are even adding additional early-afternoon trains to get people home before the brunt of the storm. Information is readily available on the special-edition site (though I question the validity of the “planned work” on some lines), and the interesting but non-essential information is gone.
Kudos to the MTA on the planning and communication — now lets see what really happens…

Scott E February 10, 2010 - 7:43 am

I must admit that the emails are a bit of overkill though. Since midnight, I’ve gotten 14 emails from LIRR telling me that they are “on or close to schedule” and to use caution since stairs and platforms can be slippery. 14!!

Alon Levy February 10, 2010 - 11:32 am

They shut down for 15″ of snow? Did they all grow up in the desert?

Scott E February 10, 2010 - 12:14 pm

The Long Island Rail Road and Metro North are, I believe, the only commuter railroads in the country (not counting rapid transit) which are powered by third-rail. All the rest use either overhead catenary wire or diesel locomotives.

Once the snow gets higher than the electrified rail, the train “shoe” that makes contact with it can no longer reliably get power. The snow probably causes an electrical short as well.

Alon Levy February 11, 2010 - 11:13 pm

Subways are powered by third rail in most of the world, including New York. They also run elevated for much of the way.

Niccolo Machiavelli February 10, 2010 - 1:15 pm

Actually Scott, you are half right, which is pretty good by blog standards. The Metro North contact shoes run on the underside of the third rail and have substantially higher tolerance for snow. One good reason, of many, why service is generally more reliable on Metro North. Long Island, accordingly, has a bigger diesel fleet which should be utilized in these circumstances to meet service. The diesel fleet has its problems but it is really a sad day for the LIRR when 10″ of snow brings down the curtain. I think it is management fear of headlines.

Benjamin Kabak February 10, 2010 - 1:20 pm

Actually Scott, you are half right, which is pretty good by blog standards.

I don’t particularly want to pick a fight with you, but I’ve seen this contempt as a common thread in most of your comments. If you hold blogs — or if it’s just this one — in such low esteem, why do you read and/or comments? There’s definitely a way to have a respectful dialogue even if you insist on hiding behind an anonymous handle, and I’d personally appreciate it if you could be more more mindful of that.

Other than that sensitivity to your tone on my part, you’re right about the headlines. Since that bad flood in 2007, the MTA has really been playing it safe in bad weather.

Scott E February 10, 2010 - 3:04 pm

Not just the flood in 2007, but LIRR keeps citing the snowstorm from just before Christmas, in which the same train broke down several times, leaving passengers stranded on-board for hours without electricity, heat, or working bathrooms. They’re saying that it’s better to be stranded in Penn Station than on a cold train somewhere.

As far as the blog standards remark, it really doesn’t bother me. Ben’s posts are among the most researched of any blog I’ve seen, and most of the commenters are quite intelligent as well (which is why we sometimes are in favor of bridge tolls, congestion pricing, and/or fare hikes while many seem opposed).

Transit to implement inclement weather plan again :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog February 10, 2010 - 6:36 pm

[…] its inclement weather plan again tonight. For more info on the service changes, check out yesterday’s summary. The B, V and W will all end early, and most routes will run local for all or part of their runs. […]

Sara February 11, 2010 - 2:35 pm

Ya know, I’m a recent transplant from the South, and I don’t get the fuss about the snow. I understand that it is a problem for people who drive, but in terms of public transit, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. I was living in NYC (briefly) during that storm in 2007, and that was a big deal. The water overwhelmed the system so quickly, and there was a tornado. The snow, however, is much slower and seemingly much kinder. The buses were running, the trains were running (albeit slower)–so what’s the big deal? I am proud of the MTA for getting themselves together regarding rapid information output via the website and other venues, though.

Andrew February 12, 2010 - 7:04 am

Snow can cause major problems, especially on lines that are susceptible to snow buildup (standard elevated lines aren’t usually a problem, since the snow falls through to the street below). Snow can block the third rail, snow can get stuck in switches, snow can get stuck underneath stop arms (one of the essential safety components of the signal system; the stop arm must go down before a signal will clear, since a raised stop arm will activate the train’s emergency brakes). If the snow is wet and heavy, or if there are heavy winds, trees and tree limbs can land across the tracks.

Trains aren’t stored in yards, since most yards are susceptible to all of the problems I mention above, so instead they’re stored on underground trackage that isn’t essential for service (mostly express tracks) – that explains most of the official cold weather plan changes.

There’s no reason that trains would be moving particularly slowly in snow – if they’re moving, they should move at their regular speeds, unless they’re encountering congestion due to underground layups.

Andrew February 12, 2010 - 7:05 am

I should add – there may also be train crew shortages if crews who normally drive to work can’t get in due to the snow.

Scott E February 12, 2010 - 8:48 am

Good information here – I hadn’t thought about the stop-arms (unique to NYC transit as far as I know). Do they use gas-powered switch heaters like the railroads do? (referring the flames that look like they come from a gas stove used to melt snow that might jam the switch).

I would think trains may run slower in snow, or more specifically, ice. Wouldn’t the rails get slick, causing the same “slip-slide” condition encountered in the fall?

Andrew February 12, 2010 - 4:55 pm

I think stop arms are fairly standard for the sort of signal system in use here. See London, for instance:

I’m not sure about switch heaters. I think there may be some, although probably not at every switch.

I don’t think ice has much of a chance to build up on the rails between trains, but you may be right in some cases.

Amidst slush, Transit scales back service :: Second Ave. Sagas February 25, 2010 - 5:43 pm

[…] website. For those of you relying on the subways to get around the city tonight, check out the changes from earlier this month. The B, V and W trains will end service earlier than normal. Most express trains will run local for […]


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