The calendar says winter starts Dec. 21.
At the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, winter begins Oct. 15.
No, there’s nothing wrong with the tilt of the Earth’s axis at the 18th and Forest headquarters. It’s just the deadline for being ready to hit the road when Mother Nature unleashes her wintry wrath.
Beyond the buses on the road every day, the KCATA runs its own mini public works department that helps clear the roads for buses and cars alike. Despite an unusually warm November and December, the KCATA is prepared for battling snow and ice.
“We’re ready to go right now,” said Tony Bragulla, KCATA infrastructure maintenance supervisor.
By mid-October, the KCATA had already purchased its winter’s supply of salt, tuned up its plows and buses, and distributed hats, gloves, coats and coveralls to the maintenance crews responsible for keeping buses moving in the face of stormy weather. Snow tires are already mounted on 100 buses.
“We don’t lose any time gearing up for snow,” Bragulla said. “It’s a very long process that has to start at the beginning of summer just so we can be ready for winter.”
Preparations get under way as early as May when the KCATA places its order for salt. The agency already has stockpiled 1,050 tons of salt and 7,500 pounds of Ice Melt that should last a typical winter.
Salt is loaded into a truck at KCATA. Our snow plows treat streets that RideKC buses travel on and clear select park and rides.
By August, maintenance crews started installing plows and salt spreaders on the fleet of 10 trucks responsible for clearing 340 miles of streets andseven park-and-ride lots.
The plow fleet has been fueled, inspected and is ready to go. So are the 11 snow blowers, the two tow trucks, and the two pusher buses.
A Facilities Maintenance worker treats 10th & Main.
Now the wait begins. The KCATA starts plowing and treating roads from the first sign that snow’s settling on the road surface. As many as 20 workers will be needed in the event of severe weather.
The first spot to get attention is 10th and Main downtown, one of the city’s busiest transit stops serving so many different routes from across the region. “I tell our crews I don’t want to see any snow or ice,” Bragulla said. “All I want to see there is dripping water.”
During winter and year round, safety of our customers and employees is the top concern for KCATA. With smaller snow storms, plows and snow blowers may not be needed. But KCATA crews will be ready to meet the big storms with an aggressive and appropriate effort.
Plows operate metro wide along seven different routes covering areas served by KCATA buses. They are also sent to the frequently used park-and-ride lots and bus stops.
Pusher buses can be used to free buses wedged in snow.