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Rest Easy: The CTA Will Save Us In An Emergency

By Margaret Lyons in News on Jul 22, 2008 4:53PM

2008_7_22.cta.jpgShould the need arise, evacuating Chicago—due to a terrorism or a natural disaster, say—via mass transit could be tough, according to a new report.

The National Research Council's Transportation Research Board released a study today detailing 38 metro areas' evacuation plans, and according to "The Role of Transit in Emergency Evacuation," Chicago's in comparatively good shape. Our transit systems have a communication plan with each other, the CTA says it can evacuate 100,000 people by rail and 40,000 people by bus per hour, and most downtown highrises have their own emergency evacuation plans. Still, challenges abound.

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.

Another problem is the lack of regional planning—Cook, Lake and DuPage counties don't currently coordinate, but the Chicago Region Evacuation Planning Group is trying to fix that.

The report can be found it its government-parlance glory here.

Photo by Broken Bat