Perhaps you’ve forgotten about last year’s blizzard, perhaps because this December continues to hang in the 50s and 60s…even though, for some reason, it snowed in October. But regardless of your memories, there are people who have not forgotten about last year’s blizzard, perhaps because some of them were trapped on an A train in the Rockaways for 6 hours. Oh yeah, remember that? Others who have not forgotten are the MTA officials tasked with trying to figure out how to prevent that from happening again this year, if it ever drops below 40 degrees again and the rain turns to something more frozen. But what, exactly, happened?
Yesterday, the New York Times reports, MTA officials testified in front of a City Council committee about their preparedness levels for another such storm — and Thomas F. Prendergast admitted this damning information:
“We forgot about that train,” said Prendergast, president of New York City Transit, which oversees subways and buses, at a hearing held by the Council’s transportation committee. “That’s inexcusable.”
Prendergast suggested having consumer advocates who monitor stalled public transport vehicles in case of another weather (or other) emergency — these people would figure out how to rescue people in such instances. Or, if stuck, how to at least get them food and water and, you know, make a party of it. (We hear good things about frozen Coors Light.)
The MTA has also released an announcement detailing “Improvements Based on Last Year’s Storms,” which they say includes improved customer communication practices, new winter weather response procedures, and upgraded storm-fighting equipment.
This means that they may suspend service, if need be, but they’ll be “prepared to clear more snow and ice than ever before” and will try to keep service running. There’s also an emergency coordinator to help with the response and communication. And, prioritized bus routes for plowing!
But…will it even snow? Well. Better safe than forgotten on an A train.
Update: Lawyer Aymen Aboushi has been working with a group of 22 of the stranded passengers on a suit and says, “We have been holding hearings with the MTA for the last year on this issue! They’ve remained stubborn in telling us they didn’t do anything wrong and ‘It’s an act of God.’ The MTA knew we are days away from filing our lawsuit, and I think their latest public statements are a pre-emptive strike against the meritorious lawsuit.”
Aboushi’s suit, which will be filed after final hearings on the 16th, asks for the MTA to agree to develop a policy (“in writing, something meaningful that current and future generations can look to”) to prevent this from happening again and also to compensate individuals who have medical bills and lost wages because they got sick after being stranded on the train.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 7, 2011