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APTA, transit agencies offer assistance to Gulf Coast residents

In addition to state and federal agencies, the transit industry is trying to help employees and Gulf Coast residents deal with Hurricane Katrina’s after effects.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has established the APTA Hurricane Katrina Transit Employee Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to transit employees and their families in the storm-affected region. The association is encouraging members to make a donation through the relief fund or online at

To coordinate the association’s relief efforts, APTA created a task force headed by Manager of Information Services Jim Olivetti. APTA also will post on its site information on how to provide assistance for evacuation and recovery efforts.

In addition, APTA is working with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to determine the best ways to help area residents. FTA asks that any requests for assistance or offers to provide equipment be placed through regional administrators.

To address fuel shortages, FTA is working with other federal agencies. Transit agencies in need of fuel can contact FTA’s regional office to provide specific details on average daily consumption, available fuel, anticipated deliveries and the amount of time they can continue to operate.

Meanwhile, several transit agencies are offering their services to evacuees.

Last weekend, Amtrak sent a 12-car passenger train stocked with water and ready-to-eat meals to New Orleans’ Avondale Yard on the south side of the Mississippi River. The train transported evacuees from New Orleans to Lafayette, La., where passengers transferred to motor coaches traveling to Texas and other nearby states.

The Amtrak train still is in the area and ready to enter service as needed, but currently is not being used to evacuate residents. Officials determined it was more efficient to transport evacuees via plane or bus, according to a Federal Railroad Administration spokesperson.

In Texas, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, is providing evacuees transportation every 10 minutes for evacuees from the Astrodome to area hospitals, clinics and stores. Dallas Area Rapid Transit is providing rail and bus passes to evacuees staying at the Reunion Arena shelter to access shopping centers, community services, health care and entertainment.

Finally, Tampa’s Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority is offering qualified displaced transit workers interim employment as streetcar service attendants, custodians, facility maintenance technicians, bus mechanics and bus operators.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/6/2005