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.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.
London is one of the grand cities of the world and in the midst of the cycling revolution. Led by the city’s transport organization – Transport for London, but supported by more fundamental changes in the city’s society, economy and perceptions of lifestyle and mobility, cycling is “on a roll”!
Tech-enabled ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft already appear to be acting as a complement to public transit. Uber analyzed its Los Angeles trip data to in this light. Over the course of a month, Uber found that 22 percent of trips taken near Metro stations took place during rush hour (between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday). This data could be telling us that people are using Uber like they might use bikeshare, as a last-mile and first-mile connection to transit.
Driverless cars have been in the news for quite some time. Last September, I speculated in PC 360, an insurance trade magazine, that insurance premiums for autos could decrease by as much as 40% over the next five years as autonomous cars made travel much safer. I increased my estimate to a 75% decrease in insurance premiums by extending the timeline to 15 years. When I wrote those two articles, I remember thinking how much of a personal paradigm shift was needed to accept a driverless car as safe. Now, it appears that driverless buses are in the near future as well.
What do transit authorities like SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART have in common other than transporting thousands, even millions of riders every day? All were recently ranked as four of the U.S.’s 500 “Best Employers” by Forbes magazine.
SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART were among 25 organizations included in Forbes’ “Transportation & Logistics” category, along with Southwest Airlines, Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific and Greyhound. In fact, SEPTA (#33) and MBTA (#49) placed higher than Apple (#55) and SEPTA was the highest ranked company in Pennsylvania.