NY-Alert Help and Support - NYSDOT TransAlert FAQ
Q. Where can I find addtional questions and answers about TransAlerts?

1. What are TransAlerts?
2. How can I subscribe or change my subscription to TransAlerts?
3. Will it cost me to subscribe to this service?
4. What are the four NYSDOT TransAlert categories?
5. What are the four NYSDOT TransAlert severity levels?
6. What is an example of a Road Closure of an extreme severity?
7. What is an example of a Blocked Lane of major severity?
8. What kind of incidents are considered Disruptions/Unexpected Delays of major severity?
9. What kind of incidents under Other are considered of a major severity?
10. What kind of incidents are considered Disruptions/Unexpected Delays of a moderate severity?
11. What kind of incidents under Other are considered of a moderate severity?
12. Why am I not getting any TransAlerts about incidents of a minor severity?
13. I can't remember if I signed up for the TransAlert service. How do I check?
14. What kinds of incidents will I be alerted about through the TransAlert service?
15. Will I receive alerts about other modes of transportation?
16. Who can I contact with a question or comment about the TransAlert service?
17. Who can I contact with a question or comment about the NY-ALERT service?
18. I received a TransAlert about a traffic jam one day and then did not receive a TransAlert about a bigger traffic jam the next day. Why?
19. Will all TransAlerts in New York State be sent to me?
20. How do I change the counties in my TransAlerts subscription?
21. If I subscribe to receive TransAlerts, will my contact information be given to others?
22. Abbreviations: Where can I get a list of the TransAlert message abbreviations and their meanings?
23. I don't want to receive alerts for routes I don't drive, only the ones I use for commuting. Can I sign up for TransAlerts by route?
24. If I receive an alert stating that my route is closed, will it have detour information on it? How will I know what alternate route to take?
25. I subscribe to NY-ALERT using text messaging on my cell phone and through e-mail. Why don't I get as much information on my phone as I do in my e-mail messages?
26. Will I be alerted when an incident is over? How will I know how long it lasts?
27. I don't live in New York State. Can I sign up for TransAlerts?
28. Will I receive alerts for major events that occur outside of New York State if it affects my commute into/out of New York City/State?
29. Will I be notified about recurring construction in my area?
30. Why didn't I receive an alert about a major accident that caused a major traffic jam on the Thruway?
31. How do I unsubscribe to the TransAlert service?

1) What are TransAlerts?
TransAlerts are short e-mail messages sent by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) via the New York State Emergency Management Office's NY-ALERT system. The messages are a free service and are sent to subscribers informing them, in near real time, of significant traffic-related incidents occurring on the interstates, parkways and other major highways in the state.

TransAlerts contain information about the nature of an incident, its location and additional important information regarding the incident to the traveling public. The department updates TransAlerts during the course of an incident, as necessary, and will inform subscribers when an incident has been cleared.

NYSDOT is providing the public with the most current and accurate information available to enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of personal and commercial travel in New York State.

2) How can I subscribe or change my subscription to TransAlerts?
Anyone can subscribe to receive TransAlerts, including the general public, commercial carriers, government agencies and the media. Individuals and organizations simply need to provide NY-ALERT with a valid e-mail address or cell phone number to begin to receive TransAlert messages. TransAlerts are short, text-only messages (usually they do not contain pictures or maps) and, as such, can be read using computers, cell phones and other hand-held communications devices that can receive and display e-mail or text messages.

To subscribe visit NY-ALERT Subscribe. You can customize your subscription to sign up by county, by four TransAlert categories (NYSDOT TransAlert Road Closure, NYSDOT TransAlert Blocked Lane, NYSDOT TransAlert Disruption/Unexpected Delays, & NYSDOT TransAlert Other) and by severity level. Once you are registered as a new subscriber and are ready to add a new alert, you can sign up for TransAlerts by scrolling down the “Category” drop-down menu, where you will find the four categories listed all with the “NYSDOT TransAlert” prefix.

3) Will it cost me to subscribe to this service?
We do not charge a fee to subscribe to - or be sent - TransAlerts.

Please note that subscribers should contact their information service providers directly if they have any questions about their accounts or about any fees that may be associated with their e-mail or text messaging service. Also note that once the TransAlert system sends a message, there may be delays in the timely delivery of the message to a subscriber that are not within the control of NYSEMO or NYSDOT.

4) What are the four NYSDOT TransAlert categories?

NYSDOT TransAlert Road Closure
Road closed, or for interstate or divided highways, closed in at least one direction.

NYSDOT TransAlert Blocked Lane
One or more lanes are blocked, but at least one lane is open to traffic.

NYSDOT TransAlert Disruption/Unexpected Delays
Conditions that do not involve closed or blocked lanes, but result in significant unexpected delays, such as visible flames, and unanticipated sudden weather events.

NYSDOT TransAlert Other
Other situations or conditions that impact the transportation system, but do not specifically fall under the Road Closure, Blocked Lane, and Disruptions and Unexpected Delays categories.

5) What are the four NYSDOT TransAlert severity levels?

Extreme
Used only for catastrophic events covering widespread disruption. This level is rarely used.

Major
Conditions or events resulting in heavy delays and with longer duration (two hours or more) on major arterials and commuter routes.

Moderate
Conditions or events resulting in moderate delays and with duration of up to two hours on major arterials and commuter routes, and with longer duration (two hours or more) on other highways.

Minor
NYSDOT will not issue TransAlerts for minor incidents. Minor incidents are conditions or events resulting in minor delays and duration of less than 30 minutes on major arterials and commuter routes, and up to two hours on other highways.

6) What is an example of a Road Closure of an extreme severity?
Alerts for extreme events will seldom be sent. However, a catastrophic event, such as a bridge failure or large-scale washout on a major road, would qualify as an extreme road closure.

7) What is an example of a Blocked Lane of major severity?
An incident resulting in a blocked lane(s) for two hours or more on major arterials or commuter routes.

8) What kind of incidents are considered Disruptions/Unexpected Delays of major severity?
An incident with an element of high visibility along a major arterial or commuter route that will cause motorists to be seriously distracted and causing delays of one hour. Examples include visible flames, a standoff with police, unanticipated and sudden weather events (i.e. isolated drifting snow, black ice, heavy fog, high winds) or any widespread high-level safety risk (hazardous material spills, flash floods).

9) What kind of incidents under Other are considered of a major severity?
Other incidents, situations or conditions lasting two hours or more on major arterials and commuter routes that impact the transportation system. Examples include high winds causing the closing of bridges or restriction of truck traffic on major facilities or a long-term mass transit shutdown.

10) What kind of incidents are considered Disruptions/Unexpected Delays of a moderate severity?
Emergency construction work efforts that occupy lanes on major arterials and commuter routes during peak hours and that affect traffic significantly by causing delays of 30 minutes. Examples include poor visibility conditions due to disruptive weather, standing water or other obstruction across an otherwise open roadway.

11) What kind of incidents under Other are considered of a moderate severity?
Emergency truck route restrictions due to emergency bridge conditions on major arterials and commuter routes lasting 30 minutes to two hours.

12) Why am I not getting any TransAlerts about incidents of a minor severity?
Currently, NYSDOT does not issue TransAlerts for minor incidents. Justification for doing so is being examined.

13) I can't remember if I signed up for the TransAlert service. How do I check?
You can check your subscription status by visiting the Sign-in Options on the NY-ALERT page and following the directions to input your e-mail address. The system will display your prior selections if you are already registered. If not, use the Enroll Now options on the same page to register as a new user.

14) What kinds of incidents will I be alerted about through the TransAlert service?
The TransAlert system will notify you of major incidents that affect the normal flow of traffic in the specific area(s) you have selected. TransAlerts will contain information about significant incidents that are considered outside the "routine," including major accidents that cause delays; roadway emergencies or unexpected delays occurring any time of the day; and severe weather conditions that may affect travel. The TransAlert message will note the approximate time the department expects an incident to clear. In addition, the TransAlert system will send updated messages about an incident if there is significant, new information about the incident. The system will not send a TransAlert message when traffic is congested due to "normal" conditions, such as routine rush-hour slowdowns or repetitive congestion due to planned construction activities.

Remember, TransAlerts are short messages, highlighting the critical details of a major incident occurring on the state highway system. Subscribers wishing to learn more about a particular incident should check the NYSDOT travel information Web site at
www.travelinfony.com

15) Will I receive alerts about other modes of transportation?
The TransAlert system is primarily a highway alert system informing subscribers of significant traffic-related incidents occurring on the interstates, parkways and other major highways in the state. We will report on disruptions of high significance on the other modes to the extent that we are made aware of them. Examples of disruptions that would be reported include shutdown of the subway system due to flooding or Amtrak services disrupted for several days due to a derailed freight train.

NYSDOT is looking into incorporating multimodal information into the TransAlert system and expects to send out alerts on other modes at a later time.

16) Who can I contact with a question or comment about the TransAlert service?
Comments, feedback and questions about TransAlerts can be directed to NYSDOT at the following link: Feedback to NYSDOT.

17) Who can I contact with a question or comment about the NY-ALERT service?
More information on the NY-ALERT system can be found at the following link: NY-ALERT Info.

18) I received a TransAlert about a traffic jam one day and then did not receive a TransAlert about a bigger traffic jam the next day. Why?
The TransAlert system depends on many sources for its information. Unfortunately, NYSDOT does not always have real-time traffic information on every highway in the state. The department is developing new systems and sources of information to increase the scope of coverage, timeliness and accuracy of the information in the TransAlert system.

The TransAlert system relies on NYSDOT employees using their best judgment as to whether the severity of a traffic incident or weather event warrants sending a TransAlert message. The department's goal is to provide consistent information on a daily basis. However, human judgment and changing conditions always will be factors in deciding whether to issue a TransAlert about a specific incident.

19) Will all TransAlerts in New York State be sent to me?
No. TransAlerts are related to a specific geographic area and will be e-mailed only to subscribers who have registered to receive TransAlerts for the specific counties that are affected by the incident. This may include incidents occurring in an adjacent county that also may affect your particular county of interest.

Future enhancements to the system will allow even more refined selections of routes and areas and the ability to receive alerts only during certain times of the day. Existing subscribers will be notified as these major enhancements become available. In the meantime, if you are interested in a travel way or a route between two major cities, you should select all the counties that include any part of the route that you plan to travel.

20) How do I change the counties in my TransAlerts subscription?
Changes to, or cancellation of a TransAlert subscription, can be made by visiting the NY-ALERT Web site at the following link: NY-ALERT Subscribe.

21) If I subscribe to receive TransAlerts, will my contact information be given to others?
No. NYSDOT and NYSEMO have strict privacy policies and rules. We will not share subscriber information with other organizations not associated with the NY-ALERT or TransAlert service. Please see the NYSDOT Privacy Policy for complete information.

22) Abbreviations: Where can I get a list of the TransAlert message abbreviations and their meanings?
The TransAlert system uses abbreviations in its messages because some information service providers limit the number of characters that a subscriber can receive in a message - most notably cell phone carriers. Abbreviations in a TransAlert message keep the character count to a minimum while still transmitting the most vital information a TransAlert subscriber expects to receive. Abbreviations and their meanings can be found by clicking here.

23) I don't want to receive alerts for routes I don't drive, only the ones I use for commuting. Can I sign up for TransAlerts by Route?
Subscription to TransAlerts (by route and time of day) is an enhancement being developed. The ability to focus TransAlerts to specific routes and times of day requires modifications to the software NYSDOT uses. Currently, all TransAlerts are sent via a manually entered system. Existing subscribers will be notified as enhancements become available.

24) If I receive an alert stating that my route is closed, will it have detour information on it? How will I know what alternate route to take?
When appropriate, TransAlert messages will contain information about suggested alternate routes; however, NYSDOT does not recommend a particular detour route for all incidents. The TransAlert system is based upon real-time information regarding the status of the highways and, as such, the current traffic conditions on these alternate routes may not be available.

25) I subscribe to NY-ALERT using text messaging on my cell phone and through e-mail. Why don't I get as much information on my phone as I do in my e-mail messages?
Most cell phone carriers limit the number of characters that can be sent to their customers. As a result, TransAlerts are sent to cell phones as "SMS" messages. These are typically very brief summaries providing the most critical information possible, within the limited message space available. E-mail allows NYSDOT to provide additional details related to each incident, including links to the NYSDOT travel information Web site.

26) Will I be alerted when an incident is over? How will I know how long it lasts?
Yes, you will be notified when an incident is over. NYSDOT policy is to issue an "Incident Cleared" message for every TransAlert that has been sent. This is intended to provide customers with the most accurate information available to plan travel accordingly. In keeping with this goal, NYSDOT operators will make every effort to estimate the length of each incident within an "order of magnitude." You may see messages with phrases such as "...for the next 2 hours" or "...for the next 2 - 4 hours"; these estimates are a "best guess" of the incident duration based on our NYSDOT operators’ experience and the information available to them when the TransAlert is sent.

27) I don't live in New York State. Can I sign up for TransAlerts?
Yes. Anyone can subscribe to receive NYSDOT TransAlerts; however, this is a NYS system that only relays information regarding travel in NYS. If NYSDOT is aware of problems in surrounding states that will affect travel within NYS, then appropriate notices will be sent to TransAlert subscribers. Subscriptions to TransAlerts are accessed through the NY-ALERT Web site at the following link: NY-ALERT Subscribe.

28) Will I receive alerts for major events that occur outside of New York State if it affects my commute into/out of New York City/State?
If NYSDOT is aware of problems in surrounding states that will affect travel within NYS, then appropriate notices will be sent to TransAlert subscribers. The TransAlert system aims to relay the most accurate and timely information available to NYSDOT so customers can plan their travel accordingly.

29) Will I be notified about recurring construction in my area?
Under the current, manually entered TransAlert system, NYSDOT will not inform motorists about repetitive backups and delays due to ongoing construction projects. If a specific construction project causes long backups regularly, a TransAlert will not be sent about those traffic backups. However, if there is an unexpected backup resulting from construction activities, a TransAlert may be sent about those traffic conditions. Planned enhancements to the system will allow subscribers the option of choosing to receive information about all ongoing construction activities on specific routes.

30) Why didn't I receive an alert about a major accident that caused a major traffic jam on the Thruway?
As of this time, the NYS Thruway Authority issues separate TransAlerts about its highway. To subscribe to Thruway TransAlerts, please visit the following site: Thruway TransAlert Subscribe.

31) How do I unsubscribe for the TransAlert service?
Changes to, or cancellation of a TransAlert subscription, can be made by visiting the NY-ALERT Web site at the following link: NY-ALERT Unsubscribe.