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MTA Readies for Snow, Vows to Respond Faster Than in Last Storm

A woman walks on a downtown Brooklyn sidewalk. Photographer: Chris Hondros/Getty Images
A woman walks on a downtown Brooklyn sidewalk. Photographer: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority prepared for as much as 14 inches (36 centimeters) of snow in the New York City area tomorrow, promising a faster response than during a storm last month that stalled 600 buses and stranded commuters when rail lines shut.

The largest U.S. transit agency deployed de-icers and snow blowers and will soon activate command centers, Chairman Jay Walder said at a news conference today.

He vowed to do a better a job providing service to the MTA’s 8 million weekday riders after the agency was criticized for reacting too slowly to travel disruptions in a post-Christmas blizzard that dumped 20 inches of snow on the city.

“All of our equipment is positioned,” Walder said. “All of our workers are on alert. The situation rooms are being opened this evening.”

Transit service should be running tomorrow morning, Walder said. Service may be temporarily suspended or curtailed to avoid stalled trains and buses. Commuters should check the MTA’s website for service advisories, he said.

“If you don’t need to travel tomorrow morning, please don’t,” Walder said.

The MTA will try to improve bus service by putting chains on the wheels of more vehicles and improving communication with city sanitation officials about road conditions. There are 350 bus routes in the city and teams will scout them, focusing on known problem areas, officials said.

Subway trains will be parked underground tonight to protect them from snow and cold. The subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter system will also deploy de-icer trains and snow blowers.

The MTA will put customer advocates at command centers to communicate better with riders whose travel may be disrupted, Walder said. During last month’s blizzard, more than 500 riders were stranded overnight on a subway in Queens before the MTA got a rescue train to them through snowdrifts.

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