Prepping for the Nor'easter

With the nor'easter bearing down on the metropolitan area, the MTA is working even harder to ensure riders get to where they need to go.

During inclement weather and snow storms, the MTA will continue to work to provide reliable service throughout the entire transportation network as long as it's safe to do so.


Photo of MTA Snow Thrower

MTA New York City Transit's Subways maintains a fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment designed to keep outdoor tracks and the third rail clear of snow and ice during harsh winter weather. The fleet includes super-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow-blowers, and specially-built de-icing cars, all designed to keep service moving.


Accumulating snow may also require NYC Transit to shift the storage locations of subway cars indoors. Also, the outdoor steps at all 468 subway stations will be shoveled and salted along with the platforms on the outdoor segments of lines.

To make traveling easier for bus customers, the NYCT/MTA Bus has its own fleet of snow fighting equipment, particularly the salt-spreading trucks equipped with plows assigned to each depot. They work in cooperation with the Department of Sanitation to keep bus routes clear and passable.

Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will operate additional trains this afternoon to accommodate customers who wish to head home early in anticipation of the storm. A schedule of this service will be available on the MTA's website. Customers are urged to take advantage of this service because the possibility exists that evening service may need to be curtailed.

The railroads maintain a fleet of snow and ice-busting equipment designed to keep outdoor tracks, third rails and catenary wires clear of snow and ice during harsh winter weather. Track switches are being treated with ethylene/propylene glycol (anti-freeze), and switch heaters are being turned on to keep switches moving freely so trains can continue to be routed from one track to another.

Both railroads are prepping their passenger fleets: door panels are sprayed with an anti-freeze agent; air brake lines are purged of moisture to prevent them from freezing; and many electric trains are fitted with special third rail “scraper” shoes to help reduce icing on the third rail. Rescue equipment is fueled and extra personnel are assigned to key locations throughout the system.

All platforms and stairs are being pre-treated to reduce snow and ice buildup, and salt bins are being loaded. Outdoor steps and platforms at all commuter rail stations will be shoveled and salted as well.

Bridges & Tunnels is fitting plows onto regular maintenance trucks and salt domes are being filled with tons of deicer. The fleet also includes 45 trucks that have special ground temperature sensors, which provide information about roadway conditions on entrance and exit ramps and other areas that are not covered by embedded roadway sensors. Above-ground atmospheric sensors are also used to help gather real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity and precipitation via wireless communication. The material used to melt snow and ice is an anti-corrosive deicer with an additive that inhibits corrosion of structural steel on the agency's bridges.

In addition, all scheduled weekend construction work has been cancelled due to the storm.

Snow Fighting Equipment

NYCT Subway

  • 10 Snow Blowers;
  • 5 de-icer trains;
  • We will also use our diesel fleet and create “snow birds” (out of service revenue trains) to clear snow from the right of way;
  • Certain trains will be outfitted with scraper-shoes to remove ice from third rails.


  • Deploy 28 salt trucks to keep depots clear;
  • Fuel tanks, gas and diesel, will be topped off as well as all vehicles fueled;
  • Tire chaining based upon the specific conditions or forecasts. This policy requires chaining of the articulated fleet when the severity and speed of the storm warrant, while also taking into consideration the service area of the buses;
  • Whenever possible, articulated buses scheduled to be in service are to be replaced with 40-foot standard buses, and all buses to be in service, regardless of type, will be sent into service with chains.

Metro-North Railroad

  • Activating 635 switch heaters to prevent buildup of ice and snow on the railroad's critical switching infrastructure and installing 100 covers to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on the coupler on each end of each train;
  • Readying 85 portable snow blowers, 115 chainsaws, 7 heavy-duty pay-loaders front-end loaders for lifting large volumes of snow, 3 hot jets (airplane jet engines mounted to a track), 5 cold-air rail-mounted snow blowers for clearing snow from tracks, and 5 truck-mounted sand spreaders for use on parking lots and roadways and;
  • Snow removal and tree trimming contractors have been notified and are on standby.

Long Island Rail Road

  • Snow-fighting equipment has been winterized, tested and positioned strategically throughout the system to start operation as soon as snow accumulations begin;
  • Arsenal of machinery includes: 800,000 pounds of rock salt, 15,895 gallons of track anti-freeze, 750 switch heaters; 200 Portable snow blowers, 200 chainsaws, 9 Heavy-duty pay-loaders front-end loaders, 9 jet engine hot air snow blowers, 4 anti-freeze trains, 3 cold air snow blowers, 2 double-ended snow broom-thrower machines, and one giant dual purpose ballast regulator/snow fighter;

Bridges and Tunnels

  • 7,300 tons of deicer on hand;
  • fleet of 95 snow and ice-fighting vehicles;
  • fleet comprised of vehicles that do double-duty, serving as regular maintenance trucks during normal weather and snow plows and conveyors when in snow fighting mode;
  • Some 45 vehicles equipped with ground temperature sensors that tell personnel if the roadway is in danger of freezing. The operator then spreads additional deicer where it is needed and;
  • MTA crossings also have imbedded roadway sensors and above-ground atmospheric sensors that deliver real-time information on wind velocity, wind direction, humidity and precipitation. These sensors record data used to determine if speed restrictions are necessary to keep the nearly 800,000 vehicles that use the MTA's 7 bridges and 2 tunnels daily.

Continue to visit for updated information on inclement weather and storm-related service.