Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Len Hardy – San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit

Chief Safety Officer
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)
P.O. Box 12688 (LKS-18)
Oakland, CA 94604-2688

Wednesday, April 5, 2006
  1. Evacuation Plan Status: What is the status of your agency’s existing evacuation plan? For example, when was it first developed and when was it last revised? Has it ever been used in an actual emergency situation? Who has the authority to issue evacuation orders?

    The existing evacuation plan was developed over 10 years ago. The plan is being updated and is currently in the review process. The final document is expected to be released in the near future.

    The plan has been used in actual emergency situations. It is most frequently used in situations involving fires.

    For minor incidents, the Operations Control Center (OCC) becomes the command post responsible for issuing evacuation orders, if necessary. In the event of a major incident (e.g., massive earthquake), the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be in charge.

  2. Scope of the Plan: What is the scope of the plan with regard to geographic coverage, agency involvement, and presence of transportation elements? Are plans for evacuation transportation management separate from or a part of the general emergency plan?

    Geographic coverage is not one of the plan’s main focuses. The plan focuses on keeping passengers safe and securing BART facilities anywhere that the rail cars travel.

  3. Plan Scenarios: What types of scenarios are the plans meant to address? Can they be applied to no-notice, advance-notice, and/or special event emergency evacuations? Do they have provisions for naturally occurring, accidental, and/or terrorist events?

    The plans are meant to address scenarios including bomb threats, fire, derailments, dangerously high winds, earthquakes, anything that could adversely effect rail operations.

  4. Capacity Needs and Availability: Have any models, computer simulations, or other calculations been performed to estimate capacity needs of the transportation system during an evacuation? How much additional capacity is expected to result from emergency measures that are to be put in place (e.g., contraflow lanes, signal pattern changes)?

    No additional capacity is expected to result from emergency measures because the rail system is designed according to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 130 standards.

  5. Traffic Control Practices: What is the role of transportation agencies in traffic management and control? What traffic control practices are designated by the plan for use in an evacuation? Examples include pre-established evacuation routes, contraflow, evacuation phasing, regulation of type or number of vehicles (including transit), optimization of signal patterns and lane use, mitigation of work zone impacts, and suspension of tolls and fares.

    This question may not pertain to rail transit. The evacuation plan has a procedure in place to send out a rescue train whenever needed.

  6. Role of ITS: What intelligent transportation system (ITS) components and other related traffic management tools are used in the evacuation plan? How, when, and why are they each used as part of the evacuation plan? Do you have redundant systems? Can you operate the ITS elements from any location other than the TMC? Examples of ITS components include surveillance cameras, variable message signs (VMS), highway advisory radio (HAR), 511 or other traveler information systems (phone and/or Web), interconnected traffic signal systems, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, ramp metering, traffic signal priority for buses, and vehicle detection systems.

    Not applicable. 

  7. Resources and Materials: What is the role of transportation agencies in identifying resource needs and in providing resources or materials? How do they assist in transportation service coordination?

    In the event of a major disaster, BART will activate its EOC. There are currently existing agreements with other agencies that BART has agreed to assist in the event of a major disaster.

  8. Evacuation Control, Coordination, and Management: Is an incident command system (ICS) used? How are transportation needs and resources, and the role of transportation agencies, integrated into the ICS? How are operations coordinated between TMCs, transit agencies, EOCs, and other agencies? Do you have plans for the re-entry of evacuees after the evacuation? How do you accommodate special needs evacuees (seniors, nursing home residents, hospital patients, inmates, people with pets, etc.)?

    An incident command system is used in the BART plan. BART follows the standardized emergency management system. In the event of a disaster, the EOC becomes BART’s command center. Once BART has assessed the situation and the condition of their facilities, they become available to assist others if needed.

  9. Communications Between Agencies: What are the communications protocols between agencies? Are there established procedures for disseminating information quickly and accurately to personnel?

    In the event of an emergency, BART activates its EOC. Once the EOC is activated, BART notifies other transit agencies and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).

  10. Communications with Evacuees: Is the public educated in advance about the evacuation procedures? What information is provided and how is the information disseminated? Do transportation agencies have a specific role in media coordination and traveler information dissemination, either before or during an evacuation? Is information coordinated between agencies and/or centralized before being delivered to the media?

    The public is educated in advance about evacuation procedures. There are evacuation placards in each rail car, and safety brochures are available to all users. Information is centralized at either the EOC or Metropolitan Transportation Commission before being delivered to the media.  

  11. Testing and Training Procedures: How often are testing/training exercises conducted? Who do these exercises involve? What drill scenarios have been used?

    On average, there are at least three significant testing/training exercises conducted each year. These exercises involve the fire department, police department, emergency response personnel, BART personnel, and BART passengers.

  12. Evaluation of Exercises: What aspects of the evacuation plan were implemented well in drill situations, and what aspects of the plan were found to require improvement? What elements of the plan were most useful for a successful evacuation drill? What lessons have been learned as a result of these drills?

    A debriefing and evaluation is conducted after each drill. Often times, communication issues (who was informed, who wasn’t informed) are identified as needing improvement.

  13. Evaluation of Evacuations: If the evacuation plan has ever been used in an actual evacuation, how successful was its implementation? To what extent was the evacuation simply monitored, rather than managed, by responding agencies? What aspects of the plan were implemented well in the actual emergency situation, and what aspects were found to require improvement? What elements of the plan were most useful for a successful evacuation?

    Recently, the evacuation plan was put to use in a “real life” situation. There was a fire in one of BART’s underground tunnels. The operator of the rail car in the tunnel urged passengers to remain in the car so that he could reverse out of the tunnel and off load at the next station. Many of the passengers disregarded the operator’s request and walked out of the car onto the safety walkway within the tunnel. Passengers managed to exit the tunnel safely and no one was injured.

  14. After-Action Report: What is the process for post-evacuation evaluation? Is the post-incident review a collaborative effort among all agencies that were involved?

    After-action reports are done after each drill.

  15. Incorporation of Lessons Learned: Have the lessons learned in testing/training exercises and in real evacuations resulted in revisions to the emergency evacuation plan? Have the lessons learned resulted in changes in personnel training?

    Changes are made to the emergency evacuation plan when it is next updated.

  16. Conclusions: What specific recommendations do you have regarding management of traffic during evacuations for another agency developing or improving upon their own emergency evacuation plans?  
    No response provided.

June 26, 2006
Publication #FHWA-HOP-08-016