We are mostly safe with the CTA in a catastrophic evacuation
Fear not! The CTA and other regional transit agencies have good, solid evacuation plans in the event of an emergency, according to the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board.
While its recent report was not so glowing for other cities, it gave good marks to Chicago for having an integrated communications plan with the other regional transit agencies.
The report said the CTA could evacuate 40,000 people by bus and 100,000 by train in an hour.
From the report:
In a no-notice major emergency, transit, commuter rail, and intercity passenger rail would play the following roles:
- Transport passengers away from the incident site by converting Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains to shuttles and redeploying buses to move passengers from assembly and transportation centers to preidentified staging areas, whose locations would depend on the location, severity, and designated perimeter of the incident. According to CTA, in excess of 100,000 people per hour could be evacuated by rail and about 40,000 people per hour by bus, exceeding the system’s rush hour capacity.
- Transport Metra (commuter rail) passengers in trains away from the incident site. Supplement CTA service, coordinating changes in schedule and routes with the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication, CTA, Cook County Sheriff’s Police, and other suburban law enforcement officials.
- Provide supplemental Amtrak equipment from a major downtown maintenance facility and another near Indianapolis.
The predominant disaster types noted in Chicago were flooding, severe storms, tornadoes, and terrorism threat.
But the report still notes some evacuation obstacles for Chicago to overcome:
The City of Chicago has a high percentage of vulnerable populations. Eighteen percent of families are living below the poverty line; more than 10 percent of residents are 65 or older; 12 percent of persons over age 5 have disabilities; 34 percent of residents speak a language other than English at home—primarily Spanish; and 22,500 households have very limited English skills. In addition, the 2000 Census reported that 15 percent of occupied housing units in the UA were without access to a vehicle. Many of these groups are served by Chicago’s extensive transit system, but are likely to require special attention and assistance in an emergency evacuation.
Hat tip to Chicagoist.