In case you didn't realize it on August 8, when a tropical storm caused the massive flooding in the streets and subways, essentially shutting down the system, the MTA didn't so such a great job of anticipating the storm's severity or letting riders know how to get around. But now, a report to Governor Spitzer lays it all out in its 115-page glory (here's the PDF). Highlights:
- The storm was not predicted early enough by weather forecasters, hindering the MTA’s response.
- While in most instances MTA agencies worked together to maximize service options, communication across agencies was not as well-coordinated, efficient, and frequent as possible.
- In many cases, MTA agencies failed to provide disrupted customers with travel alternatives.
- Flooding occurred at points throughout the MTA’s system for three primary reasons:
- Extraordinary amounts of water entering subways or low-lying rights-of-way (ROW) areas. These areas have been subject to water entry or flooding in the past.
- Overwhelmed pumps or backflow caused by water levels above design capacity. While only one pump in the system malfunctioned, the remainder could not remove the water inflow fast enough and in some instances had no place to pump it. In other areas, excessive water inflow came from backflow from external drainage systems where the MTA currently has no check valves.
- Debris blocked interior and exterior drainage structures. Regular cleaning along rights-of-way (ROW) or roadways is necessary to ensure proper functioning of drainage systems. The initial downpour washed debris into drains that may not have been clogged. The MTA and our regional partners must do whatever they can to keep drains clean in advance and do whatever they can to clear them of debris during storms.
- Customers did not always have access to accurate information in stations.
- Customers lacked access to real-time service information on the go.
- Many customers had difficulty accessing the MTA’s website, www.mta.info, or easily finding critical information on the site.
- Information on the severity of the NYC Transit disruption was delayed reaching media outlets.
Recommendations include creating an MTA Emergency Response Center, a "corrective action plan for top flood-prone locations," improving its weather forecasting and increasing bandwidth to their website. Most exciting: The fact that the MTA should send text messages and email alerts to riders when service is disrupted during emergencies.
Photograph by reader Faith, of a Manhattan-bound platform of a Queens subway station; share your photos with us by emailing us at photos(at)gothamist(dot)com or tagging them "gothamist" on Flickr