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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation APPENDIX B Literature Review The literature on the role of transit in emergency evacuation is not extensive. Nevertheless, interest in the topic has increased greatly in the wake of two events: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in which transit played a major role in the evacuation of Lower Manhattan, and more recently Hurricane Katrina, in which transit failed completely in evacuating local residents without access to a private vehicle. This review summarizes what is known from available studies about the role of transit in emergency evacuation, including both areas for improvement and limitations on the role transit can play. National Assessments of Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Planning Congress mandated two major studies of emergency preparedness in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: (a) the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted an in-depth assessment of the emergency evacuation plans of 56 states and territories and the 75 largest urban areas (DHS 2006), and (b) the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) prepared a companion report that evaluated emergency evacuation plans in the Gulf Coast region (USDOT 2006) (see Table B-1 and the discussion in the following section). Although transit was not identified separately for examination in either report, many of the findings are germane to this study. In its Nationwide Plan Review, DHS concludes that the majority of current emergency operations plans and planning processes for states and urban areas are not “fully adequate, feasible, or acceptable to manage catastrophic
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation TABLE B-1 Summary of Primary Studies Reviewed Report Title Report Authors and Date Geographic Coverage Primary Issues Covered Nationwide Plan Review, Phase 2 Report U.S. department of Homeland Security, 2006 National In-depth assessment of emergency response and evacuation plans of 56 states and territories and 75 largest urban areas Report to Congress on Catastrophic Hurricane Evacuation Plan Evaluation U.S. department of Transportation in cooperation with DHS, 2006 Five Gulf Coast states In-depth assessment of state and local emergency evacuation plans Transit Emergency Planning and Response Assessment Initiative J. A. Goodwill and A. Reep, Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida, 2005 Florida Survey of emergency planning and response plans of transit systems in Florida Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Actions Needed to Clarify Responsibilities and Increase Preparedness for Evacuations U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2006 National Special-needs populations Transportation Equity in Emergencies: A Review of the Practices of State Departments of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and Transit Agencies in 20 Metropolitan Areas D. Bailey, S. Swiacki, A. Byrnes, et al. 2007 Twenty metropolitan areas Evaluation of emergency response and evacuation plans of state DOTs, transit agencies, and metropolitan planning organizations in 20 metropolitan areas with higher-than-average proportions of minority, low-income, limited-English-proficient, and zero-vehicle households Strategies in Emergency Preparedness for Transportation-Dependent Populations National Consortium on the Coordination of Human Services Transportation, 2006 National Special-needs populations
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation Report Title Report Authors and Date Geographic Coverage Primary Issues Covered Emergency Evacuation Report Card 2006 W. Cox for the American Highway Users Alliance, 2006 National Evacuation capacity of the 37 largest urban areas, with an emphasis on highway capacity Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: Cross Cutting Study John A. Volpe national Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, Mass., 2003 Selected urban areas with catastrophic events In-depth examination of the effects of four catastrophic emergency incidents on transportation systems: the September 11 terrorist attack in New York City; the September 11 terrorist attack in the Washington, D.C., area; the 2001 CSX rail tunnel fire in Baltimore; and the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, California Identification and Analysis of Factors Affecting Emergency Evacuations L. J. Dotson and J. Jones, Sandia National Laboratories, 2005 National Factors contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of public evacuations of 1,000 or more people in response to natural disasters, technological hazards, and malevolent acts occurring in the United States between January 1, 1990, and June 30, 2003 NOTE: Reports are listed in the order in which they appear in this literature review.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation events” (DHS 2006, ix).1, 2 The report attributes this performance record to four factors: Poorly defined requirements for collaboration, fostering a tendency to plan internally. Planning that emphasizes general roles and responsibilities rather than detailed procedures for specific hazards, scenarios, or response thresholds. Outmoded planning processes, rudimentary tools and guidance, and insufficient planning expertise. Lack of resource inventories and tracking mechanisms. The report cites significant weaknesses in planning for a mass evacuation as an “area of profound concern” (DHS 2006, ix). It rates only 13 percent of state plans and 7 percent of urban area plans as sufficient in describing in explicit and measurable terms how a successful mass evacuation could be conducted with current capability (DHS 2006, 8). More specifically, it rates only 12 percent of state plans and 8 percent of urban area plans as sufficient in estimating the time required to evacuate people located in different risk zones (DHS 2006, 23), and a similarly small fraction—18 percent of state plans and 7 percent of urban area plans—as sufficient in incorporating all available modes of transportation into emergency plans. The report identifies a lack of adequate planning for special-needs populations as the most persistent shortcoming across all the operational aspects of state and 1 Catastrophic events are defined as “any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions. A catastrophic event could result in sustained national impacts over a prolonged period of time; almost immediately exceeds resources normally available to state, local, tribal, and private-sector authorities in the impacted area; and significantly interrupts governmental operations and emergency services to such an extent that national security could be threatened” (DHS 2006, vii). 2 DHS peer review teams rated 27 percent of state emergency operations plans and only 10 percent of urban area plans “sufficient” with respect to the adequacy of the plan; the majority fell into the “partially sufficient” category (DHS 2006, 30). A plan was considered adequate when it complied with applicable guidance, contained valid planning assumptions, and provided a concept of operations that identified and addressed critical tasks effectively. The peer review teams, composed of former state and local homeland security officials, conducted site visits in all of the jurisdictions studied. They developed a scorecard for each area, establishing criteria for 34 questions that were used to rate the state and urban area plans as “sufficient,” “partially sufficient,” or “not sufficient.”
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation urban area plans.3 The term “special-needs populations” is broadly defined as including those without access to private vehicles and thus being potential users of transit in an emergency evacuation.4 None of the state or urban area plans are rated sufficient on this item. The Role of Transit in Hurricane Evacuation The DHS study found that the states and urban areas in the Hurricane Belt—defined broadly to include the Gulf and Atlantic Coast states—generally had emergency plans that were more likely than other plans to be rated sufficient by the peer review teams.5 The report cites the role of a recurring seasonal hazard (i.e., hurricanes), as well as high population density, as an impetus for the development and maintenance of robust emergency plans in these states. The companion USDOT study mentioned earlier focuses more specifically on a review of the evacuation plans of responsible state and local jurisdictions in the five hurricane-prone Gulf Coast states—Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. State and local operations plans in that region are generally rated effective with respect to highway evacuations (USDOT 2006).6 Two-thirds of the plans reviewed contained provisions for monitoring evacuation by motorized transport, rail, air, water, and other 3 These elements of emergency plans are known as functional annexes. Their focus is on operations before, during, and after an emergency, and they define what each function is and who is responsible for carrying it out. 4 Special-needs populations are defined broadly to include the elderly, people with disabilities and other medical conditions, those with limited English proficiency, those with hearing and sight impairments, those who are in institutions, and those without access to private vehicles. Many of these groups have little in common beyond the fact that they are often left out of emergency planning (Kailes 2005) and that, because of their diversity of needs and vulnerability, planning for them is difficult. 5 There were some notable exceptions, however. The evacuation functional annexes of urban area emergency plans in the Hurricane Belt were rated not sufficient more often than those of plans in other U.S. urban areas. 6 The study adopted a somewhat different methodology and rating system from the DHS study. Sixty-three evacuation plans were examined for states, counties, parishes, and major urban areas within the five-state region. Plan review entailed site visits to each state to discuss plans with responsible state and local officials, coordinating where possible with the DHS site visits. The scheme for rating each plan resulted in four possible scores—marginally effective, partially effective, effective, and very effective.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation modes to determine the adequacy of resources, as well as contingency plans for securing additional vehicles if needed. At the same time, few plans provided for coordination with neighboring jurisdictions, which may compete for common transportation resources. Moreover, limited information was available concerning the use of standby contracts with paratransit providers, private motor coach companies, ambulance companies, railroads, and air carriers. Most plans for urban areas included transit buses, and two-thirds designated pickup points for transit-dependent evacuees. However, few considered how evacuees would be transported to staging areas. Like the DHS study, the USDOT study found that in general, plans for evacuating persons with various special needs were not well developed. Evacuating those who are not institutionalized presents special challenges. In particular, those living independently who use wheelchairs, rely on special medical equipment, are hearing or visually impaired, and are elderly have unique communications, transportation, and sheltering requirements that require advance planning. According to the report, most evacuation plans reviewed did not consider these special needs. The report’s recommendations call for the following: Joint development of regional plans for mass evacuations for events on the scale of Hurricane Katrina by state and local officials and appropriate federal agencies, providers of all modes of transportation and shelters, and representatives of various special-needs populations, among others. Direct involvement of transportation agencies and operators in key aspects of evacuation planning and implementation to ensure that transportation is available for various special-needs groups and that agreements have been made on evacuee destinations. Identification of the needs of those requiring specialized transportation or sheltering services, and communication of these requirements to emergency managers and transportation operators in advance of an evacuation (USDOT 2006). Since the DHS and USDOT studies were conducted, the Federal Highway Administration within USDOT has developed a series of primers aimed at enhancing the role of transportation in evacuation planning. Although the focus is on highway evacuation, the primers provide some
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation information about incorporating transit and evacuation of special-needs populations who lack vehicles into evacuation plans. As of this writing, two primers had been published—one focused on advance-notice evacuations (Houston 2006) and the other on no-notice evacuations (Zimmerman et al. 2007).7 Following the 2004 hurricane season, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) conducted its own evaluation and assessment of emergency planning and response, focused specifically on the state’s transit systems (Goodwill and Reep 2005).8 In August and September of that year, Florida sustained four major hurricanes in a 6-week period—Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. Florida has a sophisticated emergency response structure with a strong state emergency operations center (EOC) and duplicate EOCs in each of its 67 counties. FDOT’s Public Transit Office acts as the primary statewide coordinator for public transit systems and community transportation coordinators during emergencies and natural disasters (Transit’s Role in Florida’s Emergency Response 2006). Strong coordination also exists among public bus systems and school bus fleets because most school bus transportation is operated by county school boards (Florida’s Evacuations and Transit’s Role 2006). Evacuation plans involving use of transit are included in each county’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, which addresses that county’s evacuation and sheltering needs. State and federal agencies have similar plans, with evacuation levels scaled to the expected severity of each hurricane. Despite the many strengths of the state’s emergency management structure, the Florida study found that relatively few transit agencies maintain formal agreements with other transit agencies or local or regional govern- 7 At least two other detailed primers are planned for the Routes to Effective Evacuation Planning Primer Series—one on integrating multiple modes into evacuation planning for events with no notice and another on evacuating populations with special mobility requirements. Also planned is a summary overview of all five primers. 8 Florida has more than 24 fixed-route systems and 67 counties with community transportation coordinators, a state-funded position intended to help coordinate transportation for the disadvantaged (Transit’s Role in Florida’s Emergency Response 2006). FDOT hired the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida to survey all transit agencies and interview selected responders (Goodwill and Reep 2005). 9 That office must also coordinate with several other state offices, including FDOT itself, the state EOC, FDOT district offices, and the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, as well as local transit agencies.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation ments to provide for interagency cooperation and communication before, during, and after emergency events (Goodwill and Reep 2005).10 The study report identifies 23 best practices that, if implemented more widely, could help improve transit emergency response management in the state. The following are some of the most important of these practices: Communicating expectations for staff, including their responsibilities during an emergency, staff training, and mock drills. Protecting bus fleets, fueling in advance, and stocking emergency electric generators and backup communication devices. Establishing and publicizing evacuation routes and bus assignments. Preplanning for the transport of those with special needs, building on paratransit system expertise. Developing procedures for the evacuation of homeless and transient populations. Coordinating with evacuation shelters (Goodwill and Reep 2005). Many of these best practices, although tailored for Florida, are relevant for incorporating transit into emergency evacuations elsewhere. Evacuation of Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations Using Transit Both the DHS and USDOT studies identify a lack of adequate planning for the evacuation of special-needs populations in an emergency as a critical shortcoming of state and local area plans. Many of these populations are potential users of transit in an emergency evacuation and thus are of interest for the present study. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a study devoted entirely to the issue of preparedness for evacuation of “transportation-disadvantaged populations” (GAO 2006). The definition of transportation-disadvantaged is very broad, encompassing not only vulnerable populations without access to private vehicles but also 10 Among the 29 counties that responded to the CUTR survey, only 40 percent of the fixed-route systems had such agreements and only 22 percent of the community transportation coordinators (Goodwill and Reep 2005, 38).
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation tourists and commuters who are frequent users of transit.11 Like the DHS and USDOT studies, the GAO study found that state and local governments generally are not well prepared to evacuate transportation-disadvantaged populations with respect to planning, training, and conducting exercises.12 Until October 2006, federal law required that emergency plans include an evacuation plan, but there was no specific requirement that it address how to transport those who cannot self-evacuate.13 Federal law14 now requires that the mass evacuation plans of state and local governments incorporate special-needs populations. Yet despite these provisions, the GAO study identified several remaining challenges if jurisdictions are to make these requirements operational, including difficulties in Identifying and locating transportation-disadvantaged populations because of their diverse composition and changing status, as well as inadequate or unavailable information about their geographic location; Handling widely varying evacuation needs, from basic transportation to accessible equipment and medical assistance; and Providing for the actual transport of these populations in an evacuation, such as acquiring the appropriate vehicles and other necessary equipment and having trained professionals to provide assistance. 11 The study did not examine the evacuation of institutionalized populations (e.g., those residing in hospitals, nursing homes, or jails), nor did it address issues other than transportation that are key to successful evacuations, such as sheltering. These topics are covered in other GAO reports. 12 GAO based its findings on a review of the literature; federal, state, and local emergency plans; and studies conducted by the federal government, experts, national associations, and organizations representing the transportation-disadvantaged and their transport providers. The study also included interviews with federal officials and site visits to the District of Columbia and four cities—Buffalo, Los Angeles, Miami, and New Orleans. 13 This requirement is part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986, U.S. Code Title 42, Chapter 116, Subchapter 1, § 11003, “Comprehensive Emergency Response Plans,” also known as the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, Title III. The act requires that community emergency response plans for chemical accidents include provisions for a precautionary evacuation and alternative traffic routes. 14 Public Law 109-295, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007, requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide guidance for incorporating persons with disabilities or other special needs into all aspects of emergency management, including evacuation, housing, sheltering, transportation, and communications.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation In addition, legal and social barriers are an issue for some populations. Examples of the former are privacy issues in sharing medical information about those requiring transportation assistance and liability issues for private transportation providers or volunteers attempting to evacuate the disabled. Examples of social issues are concern about leaving one’s home unattended or leaving a pet behind, which can affect the willingness of some individuals to consider evacuation. The GAO report identifies steps that state and local governments have already taken to address these challenges. For example, some jurisdictions have worked with their metropolitan planning organizations and academic institutions to identify transportation-disadvantaged populations, using computerized mapping to locate those who are transit-dependent. In other cases, state and local entities not traditionally included in emergency management and training—social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, and transportation providers for special populations (e.g., those offering paratransit for the disabled)—are involved in preparedness planning efforts. In still other cases, memoranda of understanding and mutual-aid agreements have been established with other jurisdictions to help ensure that additional vehicles, drivers, and equipment will be available in the event of an emergency that overwhelms local response capability. Such prior arrangements may also address liability concerns and financial issues (e.g., reimbursement rates for drivers and equipment). The Federal Transit Administration (Office of Civil Rights) commissioned a study of the emergency response and evacuation plans of state DOTs, transit agencies, and metropolitan planning organizations in 20 metropolitan areas with higher-than-average proportions of minority, low-income, limited-English-proficiency, and zero-vehicle households (Bailey et al. 2007). Although most of the neighborhoods inhabited by these populations are well served by transit, which could play a role in evacuating those without other means of transportation, few of the agencies surveyed for the study had taken steps to include the transportation-disadvantaged in emergency plans. None of the plans reviewed identified the mobility needs of these populations, only a few agencies had targeted them in evacuation plans and communication strategies, and none of the agencies had measures in place for coordinating with other agencies for the transport of these populations both before and during an emergency.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation The study report offers four recommendations for enhancing consideration of the transportation-disadvantaged in emergency response plans: Develop demographic profiles of the numbers and locations of transportation-disadvantaged populations to help in estimating the number of people who may not be able to self-evacuate, planning evacuation routes and staging areas, and conducting targeted community outreach on emergency preparedness. Encourage more public input in the establishment of emergency plans from those organizations knowledgeable about transportation-disadvantaged populations, including faith-based and community-based organizations. Develop strategies for effective communication of emergency plans on the basis of demographic information about concentrations of limited-English-proficiency and other special-needs populations, as well as outreach to community-based organizations. Encourage transit agencies to be clear about their role in the event of an emergency; understand command and control procedures for use of their assets; and improve communication and coordination with county and state emergency management agencies, which have lead responsibility for emergency response and evacuation. In September 2006, the National Consortium on the Coordination of Human Services Transportation15 issued a strategy paper and checklist on emergency preparedness for transportation-dependent populations. The paper built on a day-long panel discussion of emergency preparedness transportation among public and private transportation providers, community organizations, government agencies, and national organizations (National Consortium on the Coordination of Human Services Transportation 2006). The focus of the discussion was on the role that public and community transportation services can play in transporting individuals who may require assistance during an emergency—a narrower focus than the GAO study. The paper notes several key elements involved in suc- 15 The consortium, which operates under the auspices of the Community Transportation Association of America, is an alliance of national nonprofit organizations and associations dedicated to promoting mobility and the delivery of coordinated human services transportation for all individuals with disabilities, those with low incomes, older adults, and youths.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation Role of Transit in No-Notice Emergencies Many of the studies reviewed in the preceding sections have examined emergency preparedness for and use of transit in emergencies, such as hurricanes, for which there is some advance warning or notice. This section focuses on what is known about the role of transit in evacuations during no-notice emergencies, such as September 11. Such evacuations can be necessitated by human-caused emergencies, such as a terrorist event or a chemical spill or nuclear release, or by natural disasters, such as an earthquake. Terrorist Event The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were the largest in the nation’s history. Transit played an important role in the immediate evacuations that followed the events in both New York City and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, as well as in transporting emergency workers and equipment. The events and lessons learned are well catalogued in a 2003 study by USDOT’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (NTSC) (NTSC 2003). New York City is the most densely populated urban area in the United States and has the highest level of transit ridership. On a typical weekday, daily volume for all transit modes totals 7.6 million riders (NTSC 2003, 13). Following Mayor Giuliani’s instruction to evacuate Lower Manhattan a little more than 2 hours after the first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center during the morning peak hour, transportation agencies were faced with the daunting task of evacuating some 1.2 million workers and residents of the area (NTSC 2003). Within minutes of the attack, subway services into Lower Manhattan had been suspended and bridge and tunnel crossings into Manhattan closed. Both New York City Transit (NYCT) and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey–run PATH trains began emergency procedures almost immediately after the first strike to evacuate those in World Trade Center stations, and PATH operated express trains from Manhattan back to New Jersey.23 New Jersey 23 The 900 passengers on the last PATH train to enter the World Trade Center station were told that the train would not stop in the station; it returned safely to New Jersey before the station was
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation Transit provided for evacuation on its trains from New York City’s Pennsylvania Station and on buses staged in New Jersey. It also supported emergency response units with employees, buses, and equipment on stripped-down railcars, which were rushed to the World Trade Center site. Likewise, NYCT made available a fleet of buses and personnel to help shuttle emergency responders to and from the site (American Public Transportation Association 2001). The Coast Guard helped organize a flotilla of water ferries and private boats, making a radio call to “all available boats” to help evacuate approximately 300,000 from Lower Manhattan following the collapse of the North Tower (Kendra et al. 2003).24 When the Port Authority’s main emergency control center was lost in the towers’ collapse, both NYCT and New Jersey Transit depended on mobile communications centers—transit buses equipped with satellite and computer technology—for communications support. By midmorning, most New York City businesses had closed for the day, releasing some 2.6 million commuters outside of Lower Manhattan to find their way home. At that time, most transit options were limited, with both the subway and commuter rail systems being shut down. Approximately 4 hours after the attack, partial NYCT subway service was resumed; redundant subway tunnels helped restore service between Manhattan and Brooklyn later in the day as trains were rerouted from the area of the attack. Outbound travel on PATH and the Long Island Rail Road also resumed later in the afternoon. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus system continued to operate throughout the day, running north of Lower Manhattan. In sum, transit was critical in the evacuation of many of those in harm’s way in Lower Manhattan immediately following the event; it was less of a factor in handling the surge of commuters in other parts of Manhattan as rail service was shut down for part of the day. Transit also played a role following the terrorist strike on the Pentagon. Like New York, Washington, D.C., has one of the highest proportions of transit use in the nation—16 percent of commuters use it to get to work destroyed in the World Trade Center towers’ collapse (American Public Transportation Association 2001). 24 Although it had legal authority to take over the evacuation, the Coast Guard perceived that the evacuation was going well and played a largely supporting role.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation (NTSC 2003).25 That day, despite some communications issues, WMATA continued operations (with some closures near the Pentagon) to assist in the evacuation of those attempting to leave the city.26 The uncoordinated release of federal workers nearly 2 hours after the event, combined with the closure of Virginia Railway Express commuter rail, Maryland Transit Administration’s MARC commuter rail, and Amtrak service, placed considerable strain on the Metrorail system. WMATA also provided buses to help transport the injured and assist the D.C. Metropolitan Police in moving personnel to various locations around the area. The NTSC study offers several recommendations for addressing an unplanned emergency evacuation that are relevant for transit systems and for successful evacuation more generally. They include the need for the following: Advance planning and a well-established chain of command, because transportation officials must begin to implement evacuation plans and institute recovery procedures almost immediately after an emergency. A well-rehearsed communications plan covering both internal and interagency communications. Redundant systems—multiple methods of communication in case major communications centers are destroyed as they were on September 11, backup generators,27 and redundant critical infrastructure (e.g., subway tunnels and bridges) (NTSC 2003). Earthquakes and Release of Hazardous Materials The extent to which transit can assist in emergency evacuation directly after an earthquake depends on the severity of the quake, its location, and whether the transit system itself is compromised. On Tuesday, October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake, registering 7.1 on the Richter scale, 25 Average weekday daily ridership tops 1 million. During the height of the peak hour, Metro moves close to 100,000 customers (WMATA 2006). 26 Midmorning on September 11, the Metropolitan Police Department notified the Metro Police of a possible threat to Metro, suggesting that WMATA consider closing the system. Metrorail officials, in consultation with the FBI, decided to keep the system open (NTSC 2003). 27 In New York City, mobile generators enabled the restoration of power to some emergency control centers and prevented extensive water damage to subway tunnels and communications networks (NTSC 2003).
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation struck the San Francisco Bay Area at 5:04 p.m. local time. The epicenter was located some 70 miles from the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, but the quake significantly damaged area highways and bridges, closing the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge and destroying the Cypress Street Viaduct along the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland, which feeds the Bay Bridge (Dames and Moore Earthquake Engineering Group 1999). The timing was such that the earthquake could have had a major effect on freeway commuters during the evening rush hour. Fortunately, traffic was unusually light; many people had left early to see the World Series game between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants or were already at Candlestick Park when the earthquake struck.28 Less than 3 hours after the earthquake, emergency ferry service provided by Crowley Maritime, a private provider, evacuated those stranded on the wrong side of the bay (Hansen and Weinstein 1991). Although inspection of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system’s underwater trans-bay tube showed no damage, many commuters were reluctant to take BART across the bay because of concerns about being trapped in the tunnel in an aftershock. Thus, BART did not play a major role in moving passengers immediately after the earthquake. It did, however, become the primary passenger transportation link between the San Francisco and East Bay communities on the Monday following the quake when commuters were expected to return to work (Dames and Moore Earthquake Engineering Group 1999). During the first full business week after the event, ridership grew from a normal average of 218,000 passengers per day to an average of 308,000 passengers per day. The Golden Gate Ferry and Golden Gate Transit Bus System provided another option for commuters, the Golden Gate Bridge being undamaged by the earthquake. Some of the 30,000 to 40,000 drivers diverted from the Bay Bridge used the Golden Gate Ferry and Richmond–San Rafael Bridge as alternatives, and to a lesser extent the Golden Gate Transit Bus System.29 Overall, transit played a major role as an alternative mode of travel after the earthquake (Deakin 1991) but played a lesser role as a means of evacuation. 28 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loma_Prieta_earthquake, accessed February 6, 2007. 29 Increases in ridership on the Golden Gate Ferry averaged 40 percent over the 3 months following the quake (Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District 2006). Golden Gate Transit Bus ridership grew more modestly, by approximately 4 percent.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation A release of hazardous materials may also trigger an evacuation. On July 18, 2001, Baltimore firefighters were notified that a CSX freight train was on fire in the Howard Street Tunnel, located in the heart of the city’s business and tourist districts. The train was carrying a variety of hazardous materials (NTSC 2003). Emergency response was further complicated by a 40-inch water main break located almost directly above the site of the derailment, which spilled water into the tunnel and onto the street. The event occurred just as the city was preparing for the evening peak hour and a baseball doubleheader at nearby Camden Yards stadium. Emergency responders were faced with a potential evacuation of the downtown area. Fortunately, they ascertained that the hazardous materials involved in the fire would not pose a serious environmental hazard, and evacuation proved unnecessary. The tunnel fire, however, had an immediate impact on transportation in Baltimore City (NTSC 2003). City streets were closed in the vicinity of the tunnel; the Maryland Transit Administration subway station closest to the fire was shut down; buses were rerouted around the closures; and light rail service in the vicinity of the water main break was disrupted, as was MARC commuter rail and Oriole game-day service. The Maryland Transit Administration set up a “bus bridge” to supplement service, bringing MARC passengers into the city and the game. Despite the disruption, the city was cleared of traffic within 2 hours of the end of the normal peak hour period (NTSC 2003). During this event, the primary role of transit was to help ease service disruptions. Nuclear Power Plant Accidents A nuclear power plant accident is likely to trigger an evacuation, with many people choosing to leave even if evacuation is not mandated. Fortunately, radiological releases are rare occurrences, although fears of a terrorist incident involving a nuclear facility have increased significantly since the attacks of September 11. The most noteworthy nuclear accident, of course, was at Three Mile Island in 1979. Richard Thornburgh, Governor of Pennsylvania at the time, recommended that some 3,400 pregnant women and preschool children within a 5-mile radius of the plant leave, and schools within that area were closed. Evacuation plans for some 650,000 people living within 20 miles of the plant were prepared, but a
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation full-scale evacuation proved unnecessary (Pennsylvania Highways n.d.). Nevertheless, continuing uncertainty over the status of the plant and the beginning of the weekend prompted a spontaneous evacuation of about 200,000 people—nearly 40 percent of the population within 15 miles of the reactor (Zeigler and Johnson 1984). Numerous studies of evacuation behavior during the Three Mile Island incident suggest that the public is likely to overrespond to evacuation orders because of their fear of radiation exposure (Dotson and Jones 2005). If plans are not carefully formulated and implemented, self-evacuations of those farther from the event site could hinder the evacuation of those closer in and thus at higher risk. After the Three Mile Island accident, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency instituted a requirement that jurisdictions with nuclear power facilities, as well as neighboring jurisdictions, establish and exercise evacuation and sheltering-in-place procedures and identify vulnerable populations, including persons with disabilities. Many areas have also conducted evacuation time studies. It is not surprising, then, that the majority of jurisdictions that receive high marks for evacuation in the DHS Nationwide Plan Review are those with fixed nuclear facilities (DHS 2006). Nevertheless, many issues remain, particularly with respect to evacuating those without cars. The availability of buses—and more important, drivers—to transport those without access to a private vehicle in the event of a radiological release continues to be a concern. Summary and Findings Recent comprehensive reviews of emergency plans in all states and the 75 largest urban areas have found significant weaknesses in evacuation planning. Particularly relevant for the present study, only a small fraction of states and urban areas have incorporated all available modes of transportation into their evacuation plans. Plans of state and local jurisdictions in the five hurricane-prone Gulf Coast states, which face recurring seasonal hazards and have high population densities, are generally rated effective for highway evacuations. However, there is little evidence of provisions for coordination between bus and automobile traffic or expedited use of higher-capacity buses during an evacuation. Moreover, the reviews deem
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation all plans woefully inadequate with respect to the evacuation of those who are transit-dependent and may require special assistance (e.g., the elderly, the disabled) in reaching bus staging areas and rail stations or may need on-demand accessible vehicles. In addition, few plans provide for coordination with neighboring jurisdictions in the event of an emergency evacuation or have standby contracts with paratransit providers, private motor coach companies, ambulance companies, or railroads to ensure that equipment and drivers will be available should local capacity prove insufficient. Transit, particularly buses and rail systems with regional coverage, can play a critical role in emergency evacuation, assuming that the systems themselves are not compromised during the event. Typically, however, limited time is available when an emergency strikes; transportation officials frequently must implement evacuation plans and recovery procedures almost immediately following the event. Thus, advance planning, a well-established chain of command, and provision for communication among key responders and with the general public are critical to a successful evacuation. Many of the studies reviewed in this survey of the literature offer suggestions for strengthening the role of transit in emergency evacuations: Inclusion of transit providers, as well as social service agencies, in the development of emergency plans. Identification of transit-dependent populations and those requiring special assistance in an evacuation through special registries and computer mapping and provision of this information to emergency responders, including information on where these individuals should be taken, well in advance of an event. Specification of the responsibilities of essential transit personnel in an emergency, provision for the evacuation needs of their families, and securing of transit equipment to the extent possible. Establishment of means of communication, including contingency communications plans, among transit agency personnel and with other emergency responders. Development of memoranda of understanding with neighboring jurisdictions, sometimes across state lines, as well as standby contracts with private providers to help ensure that transit vehicles, including accessible
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation equipment and trained drivers, will be available to meet surge requirements in an emergency and that transport destinations will be clear. Establishment of protocols with a clear chain of command and checklists for critical transit personnel and emergency responders. Provision of emergency evacuation information in accessible formats to the public, particularly vulnerable populations, regarding how they can access transit (e.g., bus staging areas) and obtain assistance, if necessary, during an emergency evacuation. Frequent drills and exercises, including evacuation of vulnerable populations, under a wide range of emergency scenarios to determine how well evacuation plans work in practice, and planning of revisions accordingly. References Abbreviations DDOT District Department of Transportation DHS U.S. Department of Homeland Security CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention FDOT Florida Department of Transportation GAO U.S. Government Accountability Office NRC National Research Council NTSC John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center USDOT U.S. Department of Transportation WMATA Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority American Public Transportation Association. 2001. America Under Threat: Transit Responds to Terrorism. September 11, 2001, Special Report. Supplement to Passenger Transport. Washington, D.C. Bailey, D., S. Swiacki, A. Byrnes, J. Buckley, D. King, V. Piper, M. Marino, S. Mundle, G. Pierlott, and A. Lynd. 2007. Transportation Equity in Emergencies: A Review of the Practices of State Departments of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and Transit Agencies in 20 Metropolitan Areas. Final Report. FTA-PA-26-8001-2007. Milligan & Company, LLC, and Mundle & Associates, Philadelphia, Pa., May. Blumenberg, E., and A. E. Evans. 2007. Transportation Assimilation: Immigrants, Race and Ethnicity, and Mode Choice. Prepared for 87th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 2008. CDC. 1995. Crisis Emergency Risk Communication by Leaders for Leaders. Atlanta, Ga.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation Cervero, R. 1993. Ridership Impacts of Transit-Focused Development in California. Chapter 2. National Transit Access Center, University of California, Berkeley. Cox, W. 2006. Emergency Evacuation Report Card 2006. American Highway Users Alliance, Washington, D.C., Oct. 13. www.highways.org/pdfs/evacuation_report_card2006.pdf. Crane, R. 2000. The Impacts of Urban Form on Travel: An Interpretive Review. Journal of Planning Literature, Vol. 15, pp. 2–23. Dames and Moore Earthquake Engineering Group. 1999. The Loma Prieta Earthquake: Impact on Lifeline Systems. Disaster Recovery Journal Online. Deakin, E. 1991. Transportation Impacts of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake: The Bay Bridge Closure. Working Paper. UCTC No. 294. University of California Transportation Center, University of California, Berkeley, Oct. DDOT. 2005. July 4th 2005 Emergency/Evacuation Route Test After-Action Report. Washington, D.C. DHS. 2006. Nationwide Plan Review, Phase 2 Report. Washington, D.C., June 16. www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/Prep_NationwidePlanReview.pdf. Dotson, L. J., and J. Jones. 2005. Identification and Analysis of Factors Affecting Emergency Evacuations. Main Report. NUREG/CR-6864, Vol. 1. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N. Mex., Jan. Enarson, E., and B. H. Morrow. 1997. A Gendered Perspective: The Voices of Women. In Hurricane Andrew: Ethnicity, Gender, and the Sociology of Disasters (W. G. Peacock, B. H. Morrow, and H. Gladwin, eds.), International Hurricane Research Center, Miami, Fla., pp. 116–140. FDOT. 2006. Contra Flow Workshop. Orlando, Fla., Feb. 14–15. Florida’s Evacuations and Transit’s Role. 2006. CUTRlines, Vol. 16, No. 2, p. 4. GAO. 2006. Transportation-Disadvantaged Populations: Actions Needed to Clarify Responsibilities and Increase Preparedness for Evacuations. GAO-07-44. Washington, D.C., Dec. www.gao.gov/new.items/d0744.pdf. Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District. 2006. Golden Gate Ferry and Golden Gate Bridge Play Critical Role in Responding to Bay Area Emergencies. San Rafael, Calif., April 3. Goodwill, J. A., and A. Reep. 2005. Transit Emergency Planning and Response Assessment Initiative. Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida, Tampa, Sept. Hansen, M., and S. Weinstein. 1991. East Bay Ferry Service and the Loma Prieta Earthquake. UCTC No. 162. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Dec. Houston, N. 2006. Using Highways During Evacuation Operations for Events with Advance Notice: Routes to Effective Evacuation Planning Primer Series. FHWA-HOP-06-109. Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, Va., Dec.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation Kailes, J. I. 2005. Disaster Services and “Special Needs”—Term of Art or Meaningless Term? Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, Calif., Feb. Kendra, J., T. Wachtendorf, and E. Quarantelli. 2003. The Evacuation of Lower Manhattan by Water Transport on September 11: An Unplanned “Success,” Forum. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety, Vol. 29, No. 6, June, pp. 316–318. Krizek, K. J., and A. M. El-Geneidy. 2006. Better Understanding the Potential Market of Metro Transit’s Ridership and Services. Final Report. Center for Transportation Studies, Minneapolis, Minn., Oct. Lindell, M. K., and R. W. Perry. 2004. Communicating Environmental Risk in Multiethnic Communities. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Litman, T. 2005. Lessons from Katrina and Rita: What Major Disasters Can Teach Transportation Planners. Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Nov. 1. Mileti, D. 1999. Disasters by Design. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C. National Consortium on the Coordination of Human Services Transportation. 2006. Strategies in Emergency Preparedness for Transportation-Dependent Populations. Washington, D.C., Sept. www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/Documents/Emergency/Emergency%20Preparedness%20Strategy%20Paper.doc. NRC. 1989. Improving Risk Communication. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. NRC. 1996. Understanding Risk: Informing Decisions in a Democratic Society. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. NTSC. 2003. Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportation System Management and Operations: Cross Cutting Study. Cambridge, Mass., Jan. Office of Emergency Management and Communications of the City of Chicago. 2007. September 7, 2006 Central Business District Evacuation Exercise After Action Report. Chicago, Ill., April 3. Peacock, W. G., P. Maghelal, M. K. Lindell, and C. S. Prater. 2007. Hurricane Rita Behavioral Survey. Final Report. Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, Texas A&M University, College Station. Pennsylvania Highways. n.d. Three Mile Island. www.pahighways.com/features/threemileisland.html. Accessed Feb. 2, 2007. Phillips, B. D., and B. H. Morrow. 2007. Social Science Research Needs: Focus on Vulnerable Populations, Forecasting, and Warnings. Natural Hazards Review, Vol. 8, No. 3, Aug., pp. 61–68. Pushkarev, B. S., and J. M. Zupan. 1977. Public Transportation and Land Use Policy. Indiana University Press, Bloomington. Taylor, B. D., and C. N. Y. Fink. 2007. The Factors Influencing Transit Ridership: A Review and Analysis of the Ridership Literature. Working Paper. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Los Angeles.
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The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation Transit’s Role in Florida’s Emergency Response. 2006. CUTRlines, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 1–3. USDOT. 2006. Report to Congress on Catastrophic Hurricane Evacuation Plan Evaluation. In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C., June 1. www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/hurricanevacuation/. Willigen, M. V., T. Edwards, B. Edwards, and S. Hessee. 2002. Riding Out the Storm: Experiences of the Physically Disabled During Hurricanes Bonnie, Dennis, and Floyd. Natural Hazards Review, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 8–106. WMATA. 2006. Transit and Evacuation. Presented at Virginia Emergency Management Conference, April 6. Wolshon, B. 2006. Evacuation Planning and Engineering for Hurricane Katrina. The Bridge, Vol. 36, No. 1. Wolshon, B., E. Urbina, and M. Kevitan. 2001. National Review of Hurricane Evacuation Plans and Policies. Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, Baton Rouge. Zeigler, D. J., and J. H. Johnson, Jr. 1984. Evacuation Behavior in Response to Nuclear Power Plant Accidents. Professional Geographer, Vol. 36, No. 2. Zimmerman, C., R. Brodesky, and J. Karp. 2007. Using Highways for No-Notice Evacuation: Routes to Effective Evacuation Planning Primer Series. FHWA-HOP-08-003. Batelle, Columbus, Ohio, Nov.