What’s Wrong With This Picture?
By Bruce Rhodes
December 6, 2006
An October 12  USA Today article, “Few cities prepared for evacuation procedures” (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-10-11-cities-evacuations_x.htm) sites the findings of a report commissioned by the American Highway Users Alliance. A key recommendation of the Alliance is to “Creat[e] government programs to increase car ownership among low-income people”, presumably so that such persons can pack up and evacuate a troubled area independently.
As someone who knows the high cost of operating a motor vehicle, and as someone who was stuck in a hotel beside the totally clogged Interstate highway near Washington’s Dulles Airport on September 11, 2001, I have serious misgivings about saddling low-income persons with the financial burden of owning a car, so that they can join the logjam on the nearest road out of town in the event of an emergency.
An alternative might be to form groups of sixty or so neighbours, whereby each group would form a “bus posse”, i.e. a group that would have a public transit bus or school bus assigned to it, to take it from a pre-arranged location, and remove its members from harm. In an emergency scenario, local authorities might even ban the use of personal vehicles so as to free up thoroughfares for buses and emergency vehicles (unless each personal vehicle was full of evacuees). It may be true, however, that there are few communities in North America with enough buses to remove even a fraction of the population.
Copyright © 2006 Bruce Rhodes. All rights reserved.