September 15, 2017
» The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Aspen, CO, seeks a chief operating officer. [More]
» The Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid), Grand Rapids, MI, is looking for a deputy CEO-finance and administration. [More]
» Blacksburg Transit, Blacksburg, VA, requests proposals for bus graphics. [More]
View more Classified Ads »
TO PLACE AN AD: E-mail the requested date(s) of publication to: Mailing address is: Passenger Transport, 1300 I Street NW, Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC 20005. Ad copy is not accepted by phone. DEADLINE: 3 p.m. EST, Friday, one week prior to publication date. INFORMATION: Phone (202) 496-4877.

Public Transit Systems Recovering After Hurricanes

Public transit systems across the Southeastern U.S. continue their recovery from Hurricane Irma, and many still face difficult hurdles in resuming full service. Primary concerns are power outages, fuel shortages and closed roads. Some systems are sharing their buses with emergency operations centers to shuttle residents from shelters and many are continuing to evaluate damages.

Among the hardest-hit agencies were LYNX in Orlando, Tampa’s Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), St. Petersburg’s Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).

Prior to the storm, many agencies managed to provide buses to transport residents to shelter and now they are assessing damages to their facilities.

As of the morning of Sept. 14, JTA, PSTA and Greenville (SC) Transit Authority had returned to regular service. MARTA resumed service but noted delays because of road closures and fallen trees; Palm Tran in West Palm Beach was fully operational on all but two fixed routes; HART was operating a Saturday schedule on most routes; LYNX was running vehicles while continuing to use generator power at its facilities; and LeeTran in Fort Myers, FL, was operating while also returning evacuees from shelters.

Flooding and downed trees continue to pose problems, as at this JTA bus stop.

The Miami Department of Transportation and Public Works resumed MetroRail and MetroBus service but noted that the Metromover automated people mover was not yet operational because a construction crane fell on the tracks.

Other agencies preparing to restore service at press time include the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-Rail), Pompano Beach; Gwinnett County Transit, Lawrenceville, GA; and Chatham Area Transit, Savannah, bus service, although its ferry service remains suspended. Clemson Area Transit, Clemson, SC, reduced its operations during the period when local universities canceled classes because of the hurricane.

Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET), Columbia, SC, maintained service throughout the onslaught of Irma. “The COMET was very fortunate that we could continue to operate full service throughout the storm. We sustained lots of wind and rain, however, with minimum detours and minor delays,” said Interim Executive Director Ann D. August. “We continue to pray for and reach out to our peer systems for a safe and speed recovery.”

Broward County Transit (BCT) in Plantation, FL, deployed its buses in advance of Irma, picking up evacuees—including people who live along the beaches and in mobile home parks, and the homeless—and transporting them to shelters throughout the county. BCT’s paratransit service, TOPS, transported residents of assisted living facilities and hospitals to shelters set up to meet their specific needs.

“Our goal was to get people to safety and leave no one behind who contacted us needing transportation to a shelter,” said Broward County Transportation Director Chris Walton. “As part of our plan, we designated pickup locations and conducted sweeps, picking up people who waved to our bus operators to stop. BCT’s evacuation plan was well executed and I couldn’t be prouder of our bus operators and other staff members who worked tirelessly to ensure that Broward County residents got to safety,” he added.

LYNX buses in Orlando transported evacuees to shelters during Hurricane Irma.

BCT also shuttled 130 National Guardsmen from Wisconsin to various locations across the county to assist with cleanup efforts and distribute supplies after Hurricane Irma left a trail of downed power lines, trees and debris, which cut off many neighborhoods.

The agency has resumed bus service as roadways were cleared and deemed safe for travel.

MARTA Manager of Communications Stephany Fisher said, “MARTA handled [the Sept. 11] unpre­cedented weather event with only a minimal disruption in service. … Rail, Mobility [paratransit] and limited bus service were available early morning on Tuesday, Sept. 12, with a full return of all services that evening. Bus routes were most heavily impacted with downed trees and power lines making some roads impassable. While MARTA safety crews cleared routes, some buses were rerouted to ensure riders got to their destinations.”

Matt Friedman, director of marketing and communications for LYNX, said, “We weathered the storm and all our services are back in service moving the residents and visitors forward in Central Florida.”

From the field on Sept. 13, JTA Public Relations Manager Leigh Ann Rassler reported on the city’s historic storm surge, which caused massive flooding to several neighborhoods and left hundreds of people displaced. As of that day, the agency had evacuated nearly 500 residents and more than 100 special needs citizens to shelters. JTA also assisted Jacksonville’s electric, water and sewer utility by transporting more than 200 mutual aid and other utility workers between hotels and staging areas over two days.

Flooding and downed trees and power lines continue to pose problems and agencies are working around the clock to get their operations back up and running at full capacity. Many are facing critical fuel shortages, extreme heat, and limited cell phone service.

JTA CEO and APTA Vice Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., center row third from left, worked at the Emergency Operations Center in Jacksonville (EOC) before, during and after Hurricane Irma struck Florida.

Florida DOT reported Sept. 13 that the Santa Fe River under I-75 in Florida had risen 15 feet over the previous 36 hours and that local bridges and roads were being carefully monitored.

APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White praised public transportation employees for their dedication and tireless work during this period particularly while the safety of their own families and homes was unknown. He offered the industry’s support and assistance.

Public transit systems will use the FEMA process to determine what is needed to get operations back to normal. This process will take weeks. You can learn more about FTA’s involvement in relief efforts here and about the FEMA process here. APTA’s Director of Security, Risk and Emergency Management Polly Hanson can be reached at ­

Houston Update
Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) continues recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey, as METRO staff is working around the clock to get nearly all the routes running again. Detours remain on some routes and the agency is operating more buses to meet increased ­ridership demands.

Media specialist Monica Russo said Sept. 12, “People have been working night and day … trying to get people who have been displaced to shelter in safety and, on the other end, trying to get our transit services back up and running … It’s been a big effort and the result of a lot of hard-working people here.”

METRO is offering free rides through Sept. 30 to all area students, from kindergarten to college and parents who accompany their children to school.

“The road to recovery is a long one for so many people in our community,” said METRO Chair Carrin Patman.

Reaching Out to People in Need

The Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) is providing status updates here.

FPTA also is accepting donations of gift cards to help agency employees in need. Please mail them to Lisa Bacot, ATTN: FPTA Irma Relief,  P.O. Box 10168,  Tallahassee, FL 32302. FPTA will not accept cash donations.

The Texas Transit Association (TTA) and South West Transit Association also continue to accept gift cards for distribution to Texas public transit employees affected by Hurricane Harvey. The address is TEXAS Harvey Relief, TTA, ATTN: Meredith Greene, 106 E. 6th St., Suite 900, Austin, TX 78701.
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


Fleet owners and operators are turning to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to reduce maintenance and repair costs while maximizing uptime. This ebook dives into the five stages of successful IIoT execution, and the value this can deliver. Read it now!
Return to Top
Next Article »

© Copyright American Public Transportation Association
1300 I Street NW, Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC 20005
Telephone (202) 496-4882 • Fax (202) 496-4321
Print Version | Search Back Issues | Contact Us | Unsubscribe
Twitter Flickr Blog YouTube Facebook