How does the MTA deal with snowstorms? Jet engine powered snow blowers

Posted On Mon, December 2, 2019 By

Posted On Mon, December 2, 2019 By In City Living, Transportation

A jet snow thrower in action via MTA’s Flickr

No matter how today’s weather pans out, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is more than ready to clear subways, buses, and commuter railways of snow. The MTA maintains a fleet of super-powered snow throwers, jet-powered snow blowers, and specially designed de-icing cars to tackle the icy mess. For today’s winter storm, there will be “more than 500 snow melting devices at switches, over 1,600 3rd rail heaters, about 10 snowthrowers, four jetblowers, and seven de-icer train cars,” according to the MTA.


Snow blower on the Metro-North tracks in North White Plains after a 2013 snowstorm via MTA on Flickr

A snow blower, via MTA’s Flickr

During winter storms and blizzards, the Long Island Rail Road uses several different types of snow-fighting equipment and materials, which today will include “46 snowblowers, 28 salt spreaders, 30 third rail heaters, and 60 snow switch covers.” The LIRR even has two excavators, two forklifts, and other work vehicles and trucks on deck to clear the snow effectively. On the Metro-North Railroad, the MTA will bring on “220 snowblowers, 70 pickup truck plows, and over 1,800 ice scrapers.”

The MTA also has on hand 8,646 tons of roadway de-icer for bridges and tunnels and will equip 700 Bronx and Manhattan articulated buses with chains, a process that began on Saturday.

While the underground subway stations are mostly unaffected by snowfall, the system’s 220 miles of outdoor track are most vulnerable to snow and ice-cold conditions. According to the MTA, the tracks that run along the Rockaway A and S line, Sea Beach N line, Flushing 7 line, Brighton B and Q line and Dyre Avenue 5 line are often the most affected.


A Hurricane Jet Snow Blower clears a track via MTA’s Flickr


Signal Maintainers clear switches in the Coney Island Yard after a 2014 storm via MTA’s Flickr

The MTA also preps its subway fleet for snow by spraying an anti-freeze agent on door panels, purging air brake lines of moisture to prevent freezing and equipping electric trains with third rail shoes with holes to stop snow from sticking.

And when the snow throwers, jet blowers and de-icer cars can’t do the job, MTA signal maintainers are sent out to clear switches with what looks like a couple of brooms. The MTA created a video about the ways they prepare for winter storms. Watch it below:

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on January 4, 2018 and has been updated.

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