plished through mutual-aid agreements designed to maximize existing resources. For example, emergency managers in Chicago, a major rail hub, are working with a freight rail carrier group organized to alleviate rail congestion. In the event of an emergency, this group could help clear the tracks for commuter rail through use of the alert system now used to communicate with freight carriers when congestion is heavy. Other examples include mutual-aid agreements among transit providers, particularly in neighboring jurisdictions. These agreements are illustrated by Houston’s arrangement to assist in the evacuation of the residents of nearby Galveston and by Tampa’s coordination with local school districts to evacuate the carless and special-needs populations. Both of these arrangements can help stretch existing resources during periods of surge demand in an emergency evacuation.
Research is needed to support many of the committee’s recommendations. Network simulation models have been developed and are used by MPOs in some urban areas to model evacuation times and road capacity. Such models should be extended to include transit buses in traffic projections and developed for use in more urban areas. Research is also needed to enhance understanding of the spatial dimensions of the demand for and supply of transit services in an evacuation. Projects could include effective ways to identify general and special-needs populations who are likely to use transit in an emergency evacuation, optimum methods for communicating with these groups both before and during an event, methods for assessing the availability and inventorying the allocation of transit equipment and drivers, and ways to tap the private sector (e.g., rental car and private bus fleets) to assist in evacuation efforts. The conduct of this research, together with implementation of the committee’s recommendations, should go a long way toward ensuring that transit can play a more central role in an emergency evacuation.