Part 3: Cold Weather Commute & Damage Control

By: Georgia Lobb

Photo courtesy Fairfield Patch

In a battle to keep operating costs down, keep transit running on time, and to keep customers happy, public transportation employees have their hands full this winter.

If you’ve waited for a train, bus, airplane, or subway recently you know it’s not a mystery that cold weather has a direct relationship with the way public transportation works. Severe weather has it’s consequences- and this winter commuters have seen that play out in the form of delays caused by mechanical issues, electrical snafus, and damaged infrastructure such as cracked train tracks.

Arthur L Handman of the Greater Hartford Transit District in Hartford, CT explains that “over the past five years or so years, the meteorological and public transit communities have made a concerted effort to document the intuitive thesis that there are real direct and indirect relationships between weather and the operations, maintenance and utilization of public transit systems of all types.”

Cities with public transportation have all recognized the fact that severe weather will inevitably affect the way their transit will function this season. But what are they doing to remedy that?

Metro North, along with many other public transport services have created Winter or Severe Weather pages on their websites in order to keep passengers updated and informed about how to deal with their commute in cold weather.

The issue is: most of these websites address the problem, but fail to give details about how specifically they will attack the issues that might be born out of cold weather.

Though these short informational pages can’t fix problems inflicted by Mother Nature, they can give us a small idea of what to expect.

The MBTA, Metro North, SEPTA, and Metro all have text alerts or email blasts that passengers can sign up for in order to stay informed about the status of their train, bus, etc. All of these pages also encourage following them on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date.

The MBTA website updated their severe weather page today and released the following statement: While forecasted snowfall amounts are expected to be limited, the MBTA has put its winter plan into action.”

Metro of DC wrote on their page: “ We do everything possible to provide safe and reliable transit service during inclement winter weather. Metro has nearly 600 pieces of snow equipment available to tackle snow and ice accumulation at stations, rail yards, parking garages, and bus facilities. Hundreds of employees and contractors can be called upon to respond to snow conditions.”

While winter storm updates and severe weather advisors continue to appear on front pages of transit sites as the temperature plummets, commuters are left begging for more details.