Transit Taps Resources to Enhance Emergency Response Role

Posted on June 4, 2009 by Claire Atkinson, Senior Editor

Page 1 of 3

[IMAGE]MET6response.jpg[/IMAGE]Because of the sheer volume of people riding transit each day, transportation systems are vulnerable in emergency situations. And according to the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Security and Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide, transit systems are inherently "open" environments, and therefore, difficult to protect. Whether it's a hurricane, terrorist attack or vehicle collision that occurs, transit systems need to have extensive emergency response plans in place to prevent loss of life.

"We're responsible for a lot of people every day, and I wanted to make sure that everybody, including our employees, is safe," says Jeanne Krieg, CEO Tri Delta Transit in Antioch, Calif.

Perhaps the most pressing threat since 2001 is that of terrorism. As federal agencies have continued to emphasize, transit systems are potential targets for terrorist attacks. The most deadly attacks on transit systems to occur in recent years were the March 11, 2004, bombing of multiple trains in Madrid that left 191 people dead and 1,500 injured, and the July 7, 2005 attacks on trains and buses in London, which killed 35 and injured 1,000.

With this level of danger as a possibility, transit agencies have used guidelines and directives from the federal government as well as resources from state and local agencies to compile emergency response plans and execute disaster drills.

Drafting the plan

Krieg began her career at Tri Delta Transit in 1991. When she became general manager four years later, she felt it was important to implement a comprehensive emergency response plan. Director of Administrative Services Ann Hutcheson was assigned to be the point person for the project and worked with Krieg to pull together resources and information.

Hutcheson referred to FTA and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) for guidelines in developing the plan, as well as the Oregon Department of Transportation and other transit agencies in the area. Tri Delta Transit also consulted with agencies within Antioch, attending quarterly meetings held at the emergency operations center run by the police department. "That's how I met people and gathered information," she says. "The Red Cross people were there, the county OES (Office of Emergency Services) people were there."

In addition, the city's Office of Emergency Services, in partnership with a contractor hired by the FTA Office of Security, provided a threat assessment at no charge that identified vulnerabilities to the transit system. Those vulnerabilities were then addressed in the development of the emergency response plan.

The end result was the compilation of Tri Delta Transit's Security and Emergency Preparedness Program (SEPP). FTA regulations require all rail transit systems to have such plans in place, and the agency provides resources through its Safety and Security Webpage at http://transit-safety.volpe.dot.gov/default.asp.

Hutcheson says the biggest challenge in putting the plan together was taking on such a comprehensive project while trying to take care of her regular job duties at the same time. "From a small operator's perspective, it is kind of a lot of work because the bigger guys have one staff person that does just this. And of course, they have all these other things that we just don't have, like tunnels. So it does take some time - you can't just cookie-cutter it. You have to go through the information and find what would apply to you," she explains.

The Tri Delta Transit plan outlines the responsibilities of various leaders and officers within the agency, as well as information for all personnel. It also addresses bomb threat response, biological and chemical agents, use of a transit vehicle as a weapon, network failure and cyber attacks, weapons of mass destruction, violent incidents and hostage situations, how to identify suspicious activity, loss of power, and emergency closing and evacuations.

On the other end of the spectrum, King County Metro Transit, headquartered in Seattle, is one of the largest transit systems in the country, with a dedicated emergency program staff position. Homeland Security Program Manager Mike DeCapua has an extensive background in law enforcement, including service as a chief of police, SWAT team commander and member of the Department of Homeland Security's Target Capability List Working Group.

DeCapua's goal in creating King County Metro's emergency plan was to improve upon federal requirements and create an all-hazards response plan. "The plan deals at the tactical level and demonstrates how our incident command system within Metro meshes with public safety incident command, and also describes what each of our responding sections would do at 15 different types of emergencies," he says. In 2008, the Transportation Security Administration recognized the agency's plan and corresponding training and exercise program as an industry best practice.

DeCapua is also the founding associate of Public Safety Consultants Northwest LLC, and oversees the company's Homeland Security training and consulting programs.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Fla.'s JTA sets launch date for new BRT service

The 9.4 mile Green Line on the North Corridor will feature direct, high-frequency service; 18 branded stations; complimentary Wi-Fi, a Park-n-Ride lot, and real-time bus arrival information.

Canadian bus service to block Internet streaming

Some customers have reported slow internet service, while others couldn't connect at al, due to Internet streaming issues.

Nova Bus names new east coast regional sales manager

Prior to joinging Nova, John Manzi served as eastern regional transit sales manager for a major transmission manufacturer.

Shuttle, circulator routes drawing thousands of riders in Miami

These services carried more than eight million passengers last year in 27 municipalities and are praised by riders and public officials alike as successful transit programs.

Calif.'s VVTA unveils Google trip planner update, web app

VVTA staff coordinated with the county and cities to maintain route and stop accuracy throughout the release cycle. Meeting the needs of the many departments at each agency added to the complexity of the project.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment



Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close