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Does your city have good back-up plans when things go wrong?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Quintuple, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. Quintuple

    Quintuple papillon d'amour

    Does your city have good back-up plans when things go wrong?

    I'm sitting at home tearing my hair out over the work that's piling up because BART is shut down due to a massive fire, and carpools, buses, and ferries are at a standstill across all bridges. I'm not going in to the city because I might not have a way to get home. Anyone else in the Bay Area experiencing this? Wanna take a walk?

    Those who have been covering traffic for decades say it's the worst commute disaster in recent history. Everyone else (including me) just say it's ridiculous that we don't have a good back up plan when one thing goes wrong. One transit system breaks down and all of the sudden nothing functions?

    I actually normally take a carpool to SF, then BART back, but both right now might have me in the office more than a few hours late, and trapped on the other side until the wee hours smashed into the sweaty, panicked bodies of everyone else who's freaking out. (It'd help if my work situation weren't so crazy and I had network access as well.) Oh, and there's a Giants game after last night's perfect game, and the US Open starts in the city today ...

    Of course, things of this nature have happened before in the Bay Area. Every time there's a jumper on a bridge, or there's a random bike accident or a fire at a tiny building, the entire bay comes to a halt. What if a sewer collapses? What if there's an earthquake? What if iPhones have a network glitch for a day? People wander around chewing their limbs off not reading signs or listening to announcements as it is - how can they be expected to deal with anything more than a normal day as it is?

    There's something about the Bay Area. I feel like other major cities and their people can deal with circumstances better. Of course, it reflects upon what is "normal". In any other international city, you just stand on the train platform and wait for the next one to come in a few minutes, because there are multiple tracks and multiple trains. Here, you wait 20 minutes to push yourself into everyone's asscracks, and that's a regular commute.

    If there's a natural disaster or a crazy person starts shooting, people know how to make their way out of buildings and walk across bridges out of the city. Here, we tear off our clothes and start banging bones on pots. I remember when some cell phone network was down for a couple of hours - people were found kneeling in the middle of the street sobbing around bonfires.

    The rest of the country looks at the Bay Area and thinks we're all flaky and helpless, right? I feel like we need some kind of technology apocalypse and go back to agrarian ways to wake the eff up.

    Feelings on your city?
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  2. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

    I'm an East-coaster, upstate NYer, so I must ask: what is BART? Is that anything like the NYC subway system? if it is... yikes!

    ETA: OK I looked it up. We don't have anything like that where I live. You either walk, carpool, take CDTA (public transit bus), or drive your own car to get to work. One of my favorite ways to get a laugh during rush hour is to drive southbound on I-87 and see what a parking lot the northbound lanes heading out of Albany towards Saratoga. Lot of state workers live in Saratoga Co. because it is the "posh" place to live. They're usually the same ones on the TV news bitching about the gas prices when they go up. ~~ Nuts to that - I'll stick with living in "Troy-let" and my 15-minute commute that lets me lounge in bed until 6:50 AM and leave my house at 7:45 to be to work by 8:00.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
  3. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    Where I live, if we get more than a dusting of snowfall, our back-up plan is to..........................wait until the sun melts it away.

    It does eventually work :shuffle:
  4. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    We generally get mild winters here in Seattle, but as a result, a half an inch of snowfall makes everyone freak out (true story: in the windup for the Great Blizzard of 1996, the news announced all the schools that would be closed on Monday for the snowfall that was not scheduled to begin until Tuesday). Most of the time it's just amusing, but in Dec 2008, we had a bona fide Snowpocalypse for a week, right before Christmas. The city was completely unprepared and paralysed. Many people believe that the city's inability to get roads cleared cost the mayor his job the following year - he didn't even make it out of the primaries :eek:

    We've had a few snowstorms in the years between (including a significant week-long run this January), and there is always a lot of media coverage on how the city - specifically the mayor - prepares and responds.
  5. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!

    So, Copenhagen Area has something like BART - a light rail system. It is electrical, and usually when something goes wrong it is because the electrical wires have fallen on the tracks. Usually this means you either take another line, take a bus, or wait 30-60 min for them to clear it out.
    There is lots of alternate routes to go, especially busses, which helps (the train, metro and bus system uses the same zoned payment, so you can use your zone tickets, incuding monthly commuter ones for either).

    About Seattle - the snow thing is crazy. The hills are steep yes, but there was 5 cm of snow and our daycare closed. sigh - well, we had fun in the snow.
  6. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    People are just not prepared for what they're not used to. People are used to the BART always working, just as people in Seattle are used to snowless winters. I don't think people in the Bay Area are necessarily more helpless than others.

    My sister is working from home on her patio today, since her office is in Oakland and she lives in SF. Considering her view from the hills in Ashbury Heights, it's not a bad situation. :lol:
  7. PRlady

    PRlady flipflack

    Even President Obama made fun of what happens to Washington DC when it snows. As in, he couldn't believe his daughters' school closed with two inches of snow. Because he's from Chicago.

    More seriously, this city could never really evacuate in the case of a dirty bomb or threat of that nature, which, let's face it, is more likely here than other places. I headed home, a five mile drive, on 9-11 in a city that really didn't know how to get everyone out. It took an hour to go 2 miles on 16th Street.

    San Fran is so transit-dependent, it's all bridges and water on three sides, it's no wonder things go blooey when BART shuts down. But I'm not going to comment on whether you all are really crazier than other people, especially since I'm headed your way next week.

    Oh, and our Metro is single-track too. One stalled train on the Red line and everything grinds to a halt.
  8. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Hope you made it home, Quintuple.

    That fire sounds nasty. And like arson.
  9. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    I live in southeast Louisiana, we completely shut down at even the possibility of frozen precipitation. A couple of winters ago there was a chance of freezing rain so they shut down the entire school district (and all surrounding districts did the same) and we ended up getting absolutely nothing. A few years ago we had about 2-3 inches of snow overnight/early one morning and the place was just an absolute mess. Luckily for us the sun came out and the temp warmed up and it was all gone by 9am, at least from the roads. I have no idea what would happen if we had a true outbreak and got more than a few inches of snow that stayed around for 24 hours or longer. The city would just go on standby until it melted.
  10. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

    I don't think any system is infallible. And what do you want to do when one method of transportation fails and all those people using that method of transportation suddenly have to use something else? I think every major city is supposed to get at least a little crazy in that moment.
    Last winter the S-Bahn (one of four methods of public transport in Berlin - we've got U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus, tram in the city) had a power outage at one of the switch towers. The main switch tower, so more than half of the S-Bahn stood still. The city didn't come to a standstill but busses and U-Bahn were crowded to no end and people were late to work. Though I have to say, when I had to use the S-Bahn late that afternoon, trains were running again; some even without a delay and by next morning it was all functioning again.
    And haven't I come to adore the Berlin public transport anyway since I've been staying in Chicago... ;) We're so spoiled in Berlin! :rollin:
  11. Quintuple

    Quintuple papillon d'amour

    Tomorrow is supposed to be back to "normal". It's just that there are many ways to get across the bay: driving (including casual carpool) across 3 different bridges, bus, ferry, train. So there were many alternatives. But because one section of track needed repair, it took 3-4 hours to make an otherwise 30 minute trip (depending on where one comes from). I was not about to go to the city just to get trapped there. They did announce that BART service was up again at about 4 pm, but all modes were heavily impacted by all the frenzied workers, and the two major events in the city.

    On a personal level, I normally bike to a carpool area, get a ride in a car into the city (BART if I need to), then run a couple of miles to the office (it's faster than taking a bus, and bringing my bike on BART in the morning is not allowed). To get home, I walk a couple of miles to BART, take the train back to the other side of the Bay (there's no carpool coming back), then bike home (that is if my bike or seat isn't stolen). I don't own a car, and I don't live near a ferry. I manage fine, and I do have alternatives available to me, but when all alternatives also cease to function, I'm stuck.

    So it's personal frustration that I can't work when something happens to one system, but even on normal commute days people are cra-zay. We just need better systems in general. Of the cities I've visited, I do think Berlin is best in terms of public transportation. Even down to how the routes are "shaped". More coverage.

    While it's true that the Bay Area is somewhat unique in that the several large cities function as one major metropolitan area, separated by water and bridges (wait, that's not very unique), it just seems that the combination of AC Transit, BART, Muni, CalTrain, SamTrans, the ferry, and bridges are *still* not enough.

    Oh, and they just approved a hike in BART fares today too.
  12. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow Dancing

    BART has an emergency management plan (I didn't read it): http://www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/emergency/FINAL_RTEMP_May_2008.pdf

    I learned at a confernece this week that San Francisco is being proactive about their water system and earthquakes. Apparently, much of what was put in in the 1920's was done directly on the fault lines and/or is deteriorating to the point of breakage. Also, according to the speaker, San Fransisco is statistically overdue for a big earthquake. So they developed a plan to ensure that people will still have water in case of an earthquake, part of which which involves running hinged pipes that can move as much as seven (I think - might be five) feet without breaking. They are being run underneath the San Fransisco Bay - an engineering nightmare. http://sfwater.org/bids/projectList.aspx?prj_type=1

    Most cities (and all large cities) do have emergency action plans in place, but it is 1) difficult to predict every eventuality and 2) difficult to control people's reactions to emergency situations.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
  13. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!

    My personal Seattle area disaster plan: Don't live in Tacoma.

    (Tacoma is projected to be right in path of a major mudslide when Mt Rainier goes boom)
  14. Andrushka

    Andrushka Well-Known Member

    I doubt Memphis does...they have gotten better about when the power goes out but if a major disaster hit...it'd be a nightmare.Thankfully I live out of the city! Out here...yeah we know what to do LOL
  15. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow Dancing

    I found this, a draft from last year. I would assume they passed it. Their website is pretty lousy for trying to find information.
  16. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    That's just a good guideline, regardless of potential volcano activity :saint:

    But you might also want to avoid Cap Hill and downtown - we learned in the 2001 Nisqually quake that in the event of a REALLY big quake, Cap Hill will liquefy and slide right on down to the water :shuffle:
  17. immoimeme

    immoimeme my posts r modded

    Does your city have good back-up plans when things go wrong?


    Figuring out on yr own what to do when disaster strikes is all a part of our pioneering, "can-do" spirit! :)

    I guess :p
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012
  18. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    Speaking for Boston here. For all the complaints about the MBTA, they have a pretty good emergency plan and don't hesitate to use it. If the underground is tied up for any reason, they bring in buses and move folks around the blockage. If the streets are too icy for buses, they run the main routes and communicate like hell so that people can walk to the main drag. The only downer is the commuter rail. It's either running or its not. Fortunately, most commuter rail lines have the option of bus backup.

    But Boston is physically small, unlike most other major cities. It's a long walk from the Financial District to Allston, but it can be done.
  19. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    I think our city/county emergency management respond well to tornadoes because they have experience with them and we have not had one so large that it swallows half the town.

    I think what I would like to know is how emer man. would have responded if the tornado had hit the flight line (one came very close) at the air force base. Some of the aircraft have nukes and though it would not have caused an explosion there could be some sort release that would trigger an evacuation of much of the city. I would like to know how they would manage that sort of mass exit.