New York City to Shut Down Public Transit for Hurricane Irene

New York's subway system prepares for hurricane conditions. Photo by michele molinari.

New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will shut down public transit services starting at noon on Saturday, August 27, to ensure that the public transit system can still be operational after the impending Hurricane Irene passes along the northeast coast of the United States.

In addition to pausing public transit service, the city is also monitoring winds to ensure safety for bridge traffic. If wind speeds exceed 60 miles per hour, all traffic will be prohibited on the  George Washington Bridge, Tappan Zee bridge, all bridges operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, and the following Hudson River bridges: Bear Mountain Bridge, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson (Poughkeepsie), Kingston-Rhinecliff, and Rip Van Winkle (Catskill).

The MTA is also taking precautions to respond to emergency situations and restore the transit system quickly once the hurricane calms down.

The MTA will continue to focus on providing whatever service can be maintained safely and on preserving lines, equipment, and other resources so that the system can recover from the storm as quickly as possible. More than 1,370 managerial, supervisory, and hourly employees have been called in to supplement the MTA’s usual weekend staffing levels. Approximately 200 subway trains, 3,321 buses, and 100 Access-a-Ride vehicles are being moved from low-lying storage locations. 10 subway emergency dispatch vehicles equipped with chainsaws and special tools are staffed and standing by throughout the weekend and 7 extra bus tow trucks will be in service. 26 pieces of heavy track maintenance equipment and their personnel are on duty. 8 emergency generators are on standby for deployment for subway station lighting or power failures. The Bridges and Tunnels Division has an additional 15 standby generators fueled and ready for use. The Subways Division has inspected 72 critical subway pump rooms, 17 track pumps, track drains in 16 flood-prone areas, 34 direct sewer connections, and sump pumps at 216 substations. The Bridges and Tunnels Division has examined and cleared more than 3,500 roadway drains and scuppers and 56 pumps at the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. The LIRR is equipping 17 work engines with emergency equipment, 44 diesel and dual mode engines with couplers, and checking generators and equipment in 14 electric yards and 7 diesel yards.

How does your city’s transit system deal with extreme weather events?

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