Despite concerns that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wouldn’t have service up and running in time for the Monday morning commute following this weekend’s storm, subways and buses were back on track in the early hours. NY1’s Tina Redwine filed the following report.
Tom Prendergast, president of New York City Transit, is a happy man.
“To be back in service this morning is fantastic,” said Prendergast.
The agency took a beating for its performance during last year's blizzard, when the system ground to a chaotic halt.
“We knew we could do better,” said Prendergast. “We wanted to demonstrate we could do better, and we did.”
Last December, it was almost a day after the blizzard warning was issued before the agency put its emergency plan into effect. Hundreds of buses wound up caught in the snow and trains stuck on subway tracks, some with passengers aboard.
Not so this time.
“We had a series of meetings leading up to the storm, starting as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of last week, and we went through a number of things. So the only thing that changed was when we pushed the button to execute,” said Prendergast.
That was eight hours before forecasters estimated winds would hit 36 miles per hour.
It took all eight hours to secure subways and buses after their last runs, walk the track, tie down equipment and de-energize the system, a process that included shutting down the third rail so there would be no shorting.
“We lucked out,” said Prendergast.
Prendergast said the storm surge came within eight inches of flooding underwater tubes and shorting electrical lines.
Still, he said it took virtually all of his 45,000 employees to get the system back to normal Monday morning. They had to remove trees from tracks, repair switches and signals and pump water out of the system.
“They worked tirelessly, they worked double shifts, they stayed close to the place so they could rest be ready for work. Instead of people complaining about situations, they rolled up their shirtsleeves and dealt with it,” said Prendergast.
Prendergast said he'll call a meeting soon to review his agency's performance and see what they could do better next time.