NYC Subway Trains Ran All Night, But No One Allowed To Ride

January 27, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

New York City’s subway is system is just now crawling back to life after Governor Cuomo mandated a service shutdown effective at 11 PM on Monday night ahead of what was deemed to be a “potentially historic” blizzard. This was the first time in the city’s history that the subway has halted for a snowstorm.

But the precaution may have been a wasteful measure, according to a report in the Brooklyn Paper. A source within the MTA told the Paper that the trains would be running all night regardless of the mandate because they help keep tracks clear during snowstorms. Workers at the MTA’s Incident Command Center reportedly learned about the service suspension via the news and were “blindsided” by the decision. From the Brooklyn Paper:

The halting of subway service is the first ever for a snowstorm. It is ill-considered because an actual turning-off of the entire system requires moving all the cars to far-flung facilities for storage, as the agency did during Hurricane Sandy, when flooding was a concern, and rebooting from that takes ages, the insider said. Emergency personnel will be riding the trains overnight while no one else is allowed to, per the source. The closure will strand people and put lives at risk, not because the subways can’t run, but because Cuomo wants to look good, the source said.

“I think it’s horrible, purely political decision, not based on anything that’s needed,” the insider said. “It seemed like cutting out a necessary lifeline unnecessarily.”

Save a few trains that do not run at night, the Paper confirmed activity from “all train lines in the city” by tracking them via the NYC Subway Time app for Android.

When ANIMAL reached out to the MTA for comment, spokesperson Kevin Ortiz explained that a “handful” of trains “continued to operate throughout portions of the system to prevent rust buildup on the rails” and to transport work crews. Read the full statement below:

Even though the system was closed to passenger service, as a precautionary measure a handful of subway trains continued to operate throughout portions of the system to prevent rust buildup on the rails. During the winter season some of these trains are equipped with scraper shoes to remove snow and ice off the third rails on outdoor portions of the system. De-icing cars (which are retired subway cars) are also deployed to spray de-icing fluid on the third rail to prevent ice buildup. In addition to these safety measures, these trains are also used to transport work crews that are dispatched throughout the system for snow fighting duty such as clearing snow from outdoor subway yards, cleaning and salting station platform and staircases,
and ensuring signals and switches continue to function.

(Photo: Metropolitan Transit Authority)