What a week for the East Coast! First, the region was rocked by a "surprise" 5.8 earthquake, now it is looking in the eye of Hurricane Irene — a "once-every-100-years event," which is expected to impact from down south in the Carolinas all the way up to Maine.
Through it all, public transportation has been there and plans to continue to be there to transport customers and help provide evacuation efforts.
The preparedness of these agencies reminds me of a conversation I had with a CEO from a California public transportation agency when I first started on METRO Magazine. He told me that his agency has to be prepared for anything and everything, especially in the wake of 9/11, the London subway bombings, as well as the ever-looming prospect of natural disasters such as earthquakes.
The best way to be ready, said this CEO, was to devise a plan, practice it and be ready to calmly execute that plan when it's time. Already, in cities including New York and Baltimore, transportation agencies are on alert and putting their emergency plans into effect in preperation for this weekend's hurricane.
What this week's course of events proves, though, is we never know when something out of the ordinary is going to happen. Is your agency ready for the "big one," whatever it may be?
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "'Protestors bring transit, civil liberties to forefront'" here.
As the world changes with the rapid advancement of connected devices and technologies, so must the transportation industry. In a business area where change is sluggish, DOTs across the country must adapt quickly to the evolving technologies that are going to impact their operations and budget. There are at least three technologies that will have immense impact over the next two decades on how we travel and how state transportation departments react to provide mobility — connectedness, big data and automation.
Around the world, artwork of all forms adorns transportation centers, stations and bus shelters. While many of these statues, paintings, mosaics and sculptures are permanently installed as part of a station’s architecture, transportation organizations can use their spaces for art exhibitions that not only make transit hubs more aesthetically pleasing for commuters, but also inspire budding artists. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) recently partnered with two organizations to showcase the artistic talent of youth from the Greater Philadelphia region and around the world.
One might think with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and passengers carrying more packages than usual on buses, trains and trolleys, transit organizations’ lost and found departments could be busier than usual. For large authorities like the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the lost and found bins are often full throughout the year, not just during the Christmas season.
A man climbs into the cab of a tractor trailer, hauling himself into the massive driver’s seat and shutting the door behind him as if settling into a captain’s chair.
The steering wheel is massive, evoking the wheel of a mighty sailing ship even at it protruds from a dashboard covered in electronic controls and sleek digital displays. The driver engages the engine and, with a few button presses, the truck rumbles to life.
Watching the scenery pass by out the driver’s side window
The number of younger people getting drivers’ licenses has continually declined since 1996 and that adults between the ages of 20 to 30 are more likely to stay in cities rather than move to suburbs, according to the United States Public Interest Research Group. This data, then, would indicate that the millennial generation (the largest generation) is a major contributor to the surge in ridership transportation organizations across the country are experiencing.