NYC Transit Preps for Winter Weather

When Old Man Winter raises his cold, wet hand NYC Transit summons its fleet of snow fighting equipment to take on the elements in order to keep the transit system up and running as safely and efficiently as possible. System wide, additional personnel and specialized equipment are put on stand-by to respond to emergencies.

Middletown Road

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.

The Department of Buses has its own fleet of snow fighting equipment, including the plow-equipped, salt-spreading trucks assigned to each depot. They work in cooperation with the Department of Sanitation to keep heavily traveled bus routes clear and passable. Also, during heavy snowstorm the Department of Sanitation assigns a supervisor to the Bus Command Center as a liaison.

The Department of Buses deploys additional personnel to help keep bus stops clear of ice and snow and manpower and equipment are strategically placed to respond to any problems buses may encounter along their routes. Some bus models are equipped with chains and special attention is paid to hilly routes which could pose problems.

"The mass transit system is indispensable to the city on an around-the-clock basis and we invest heavily in the resources needed to keep those services running, especially during severe winter weather," said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. "But we also monitor conditions closely and adjust our operations as needed while keeping our customers informed of any changes in service."

To help customers understand the effects of winter weather on the network, the MTA created The Winter Weather Travel Guide. The guide is posted throughout the system and it lets MTA customers know just what to expect from their subway, bus, paratransit or commuter rail service should the weather turn nasty.

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. Routes, such as the Sea Beach, Brighton and the Dyre Ave. Lines, are particularly vulnerable to heavy snow and freezing precipitation. These outdoor segments also are often affected by falling tree limbs, so crews with power saws are also nearby and ready to be called to action. When Wintery Weather is forecasted Staten Island Railway (SIR) fine tunes it's winter plan to ensure that every possible storm impact is combated.

SIR deploys employees and storm fighting equipment to move snow and melt ice on our 28.4 miles of track and 22 stations in order to maintain reliable train service during inclement weather.

One of our important goals is to keep customers well informed. The ‘Service Status’ for all MTA services is always available at We also advise tuning into the local traffic and transit news broadcasts for updates. We urge all of our customers to allow extra time and take extra care when traveling during inclement weather.