This month Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) joined public agencies across California in the Golden Guardian exercise — an annual emergency training event through the California Emergency Management Agency that helps prepare cities, hospitals, first responders, schools, transportation agencies and others to respond in crisis situations.
This year, the scenario that unfolded was a 7.8 earthquake along the San Andreas fault. Information from the first reports, ongoing response and recovery were simulated while participants discussed issues that would be considered in such a situation. Various agencies participated to varying degrees.
At OCTA, we included people at all levels of the organization, from executive management to those responding in the field, so that our team could understand each individual’s role and refine our ability to respond in the event of an emergency.
Exercises such as the Golden Guardian give agencies an opportunity to uncover knowns in emergency plans and identify what they can change now — before an earthquake or other emergency — to avoid catastrophic impact after an initial crisis occurs.
In the last year, OCTA has placed an increased focus on emergency preparedness and training. The efforts have ranged from overhauling the Emergency Operations Plan, to tabletop and full-scale exercises. More than 20 training events have been held for frontline personnel, preparing our employees for numerous scenarios that would require an emergency response.
Natural and manmade disasters are an unfortunate reality for which we have to prepare. And while we do everything possible to prevent any kind of incident from occurring, we ultimately will be judged by how quickly and effectively we respond to the situation. Reacting too late to tragic events can have disastrous impacts on the public.
It is vital that we not only have current emergency response plans in place, but our employees understand how to carry out those plans so we can effectively respond to the needs of the public in a crisis situation.
The Golden Guardian event is a great reminder to all of us to dust off that Emergency Operations Plan that is resting on the bookshelf.
Typically, when riding the rails in the Philadelphia region, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority customers can purchase daily, weekly or monthly passes — even onboard tickets — for their journeys. But the weekend of Sept. 26 to 27 will be far from a typical weekend in Philadelphia — Pope Francis will be in town, along with an estimated 1.5 to two million people attending public events along the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Transit authority operators nationwide have been victims of sometimes brutally violent acts, but in Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has had a decrease in bus operator assaults by almost 60% since 2011. How did they do that?
The cost of copper was around $2.50 a pound in mid-June. While that might not sound like a lot of money, when you have hundreds of feet of copper wire, you’re talking about thousands of dollars or more. Transit systems, which utilize copper in wiring, are the latest target for thieves looking to make some easy cash.
While PTC may have just recently entered the consciousness of the public at-large, it has been an issue for freight and commuter rail systems since Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) (P.L. 110-432) in 2008 following the collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles. Since that time, rail organizations have been working toward meeting the federally-mandated PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2015. With less than six months to go, several commuter rail systems have said that, not only will they not meet the deadline, they will need several more years before having full PTC implementation on their trains.
Disruptive technologies and the new era of information sharing are helping to evolve and advance public transportation in our nation’s greatest cities. Nearly 300 mayors and government officials convened in San Francisco June 19-22 for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, featuring remarks from President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I was invited to speak in front of these influential government leaders to discuss “Technology and the Transformation of Urban Transportation.” This article will give readers an inside look at the conversation.