NY MTA prepares for Hurricane Sandy
The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is monitoring the progress of Hurricane Sandy and taking necessary precautions to protect its transportation network. The storm is tracking toward New York and holds the potential for high winds and heavy rain that could make it unsafe to operate subway, bus and railroad lines, as well as to allow vehicles on the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels.
The MTA is working closely with the governor’s office, the mayor’s office and state and local Offices of Emergency Management to prepare for the storm and respond in a coordinated manner.
“Our first priority is always safety, and the MTA is taking no chances with the safety of our customers, our employees and our equipment,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Whatever happens, we’ll be ready.”
The MTA Hurricane Plan calls for an orderly shutdown of service before the arrival of sustained winds of 39 mph or higher. No decision has been made whether to suspend some or all service in advance of the storm, but ample notice will be provided of any suspension. Customers and the media should monitor the mta.info website, which is updated continuously with service information as it becomes available. Customers can also call 511 for service information.
The MTA last suspended service during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, when it successfully helped people get to safety before the storm, then shut down its transportation network in an orderly manner to protect employees and equipment.
The Hurricane Plan also contains detailed protocols for New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, the Long Island Rail Road, Bridges and Tunnels and Capital Construction to prepare for the onset of a storm by moving equipment such as rail cars and buses from low-lying storage areas or vulnerable outdoor tracks; by staging recovery equipment such as generators and chainsaws near areas where they would be needed; by clearing catch basins and sewer lines; and by installing protective barriers to keep floodwaters out of buildings, tunnels and storage yards.
The details for New York City Transit’s hurricane protocols are below.
New York City Transit
Most scheduled weekend subway service changes for construction projects have been cancelled, with the exception of changes planned for the (7) and (J) lines, which are now scheduled through Saturday only. Crews are inspecting and clearing main drains and pump rooms throughout the subway system. Personnel are checking and cleaning all known flood-prone locations and these areas will continue to be monitored.
Extra workers and managers are prepared to staff New York City Transit’s Incident Command Center, situation room, satellite desks, depot operations and facility operations as necessary. The Incident Command Center will be activated starting at 8 a.m. Sunday. Among those present in the ICC throughout the duration of the storm will be Customer Advocates, who will ensure that all decisions made during the event will reflect a focus on customers. They fill a position created after reviews of the agency’s performance during Tropical Storm Irene.
Trains will be removed from outdoor yards prone to flooding and moved to more secure locations. Subway ventilation grates vulnerable to flooding will be sandbagged and tarped over. Many station entrances and ventilation grates in low-lying areas have been successfully modified in recent years to raise them above street level, making it more difficult for floodwaters to enter the system.
All portable pumps and emergency response vehicles will be checked, fueled and made ready for service. Outside contractors have been asked to prepare their work sites for heavy weather.
Bus operators are ready to move buses that normally park in low-lying depots to areas of higher ground.
For MTA’s full release and details for other New York agencies’ storm plans, click here.