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.
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.