After detailing their multiple mistakes handling the post-Christmas snowstorm, the MTA yesterday adopted a new policy that would preemptively shut down parts of the subway system if a blizzard were to bury the city.
“It’s planning for extreme storms in which suspension of service or suspension of some services may be required,” MTA Chairman Jay Walder told reporters after the agency’s monthly meeting.
Previously, the agency’s highest level of storm preparation only dealt with six inches of snow or more and involved storing trains underground and deploying snow-fighting equipment, but not suspending service.
This level “IV” plan was implemented Wednesday as the city began preparing to deal with up to 12 inches of snowfall by Thursday morning.
However, the level IV response was apparently not enough to deal with the 20 inches of snow dumped on the city Dec. 26-27, trapping hundreds of A train passengers in Queens for seven hours and stranding hundreds of buses on streets.
Walder said Wednesday that while the agency will halt service if necessary under the newly adopted level “V” plan, “in general we would like to keep the trains moving.”
The Windy City, which has an even more intimate knowledge of snow, has no formal policy for service shut downs, said Chicago Transit Authority spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney. “The last big blizzard was in 1999, and we kept running through that,” she said.
William Henderson, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, applauded the new plan, saying: “It’s valuable to have a framework there.”