In anticipation of a snowstorm that could drop up to a foot of snow on the Tri-State area on Wednesday, the MTA expects express subway services to be impacted as train storage goes underground.
While warning riders to avoid travel if possible and promising as little service impacts as possible, interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg explained the plan to store rolling stock in tunnels was to avoid them getting stuck in depots.
“Expected heavy snowfall has also prompted us to move trains from yards to be stored underground, so they won’t get blocked in yards. This will impact service on some lines with express service on our buses our entire fleet is being outfitted with tire chains. We have 35 snow fighters being deployed on predetermined routes that prioritize high traffic areas,” Feinberg said. “We’re working closely with sanitation to keep routes passable and as clear as possible. Obviously, we want to avoid suspending service at all costs, especially during the overnight hours, but we will be prioritizing safety.”
The 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. closure of subways is expected to continue with bus networks being equipped with tire chains in order to run reliably, according to MTA Chairman Pat Foye, who explained that COVID-19 related cleaning efforts that prompted the closure, to begin with, will continue to take precedence over providing options to essential workers off who take ride-shares or buses during those hours.
“We made the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. closures in the interest of safety so that every subway car and station could be disinfected multiple times a day, that continues to be a priority,” Foye said. “We’re going to do everything we can to run bus service as long as we can and do that safely in the interests of protecting our customers and our employees, but the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. closure was driven by the safety that continues to be the case.”
According to Feinberg, the agency would be monitoring the snowstorm to ensure that subways would be safe to begin operation at 5 a.m. on Thursday morning. Snowfall exceeding a foot on outdoor stretches of rail could potentially interfere with connectivity to the third rail.
MTA Bus Company President Craig Cipriano said all 28 bus depots in the system would working to put chains on buses while the 160-foot articulated buses off the road and replace them with 40-foot buses. About 700 buses were being shifted throughout the city in anticipation of the storm, Cipriano said.
About 3,000 of the MTA’s 7,000 buses are expected to be ready with chains ahead of the start of the weather event.
Bus speeds themselves will be impacted due to precautions taken by bus drivers to avoid breaking the chains.