I don’t believe I have ever heard of this sort of action being taken in another metropolitan area with such wide reaching impact. From Midnight on Wednesday, March 16 through March 17 at 5 am., the Washington Area subway system will be shut down!
I do not know about you, but I certainly did not expect to see anything like this happen to Metro until someone else died. However, the new General Manager has made safety and the lackadaisical Metro culture his priority. Hence the shutdown is understandable – Metro has found that the conditions that caused a massive shutdown at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station and the death of a passenger might be repeated in other areas of the system. They must address these issues But over 700,000 people depend on this system to get to and from work, appointments, school and soccer games daily. The impact will be incredible.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has stated that all federal workers with prior authorization to telework may do so on an unscheduled basis tomorrow. They may also use up their leave without prior approval. However, none of that helps government contractors, doctors, nurses, students, janitors, police officers, etc. It does nothing for the people who run food trucks who may see a huge decrease in their revenues, depending on where they are parked.
We will not get into the fact that the government has not, as a whole, adopted telework as a practice. Some People are not inclined to be forward thinking and dynamic in many agencies, and those people tend to be in charge. Enough said about that.
My question to you is, “how are you going to handle this?” For the moment, the question is aimed at people in the DMV (District, Maryland and Virginia),.who ride the 118-mile, 91 stop system. Heck, let us throw in the folks from Pennsylvania and West Virginia who commute by train to Union Station to catch the Red Line from there. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE THIS?
I can hear the clucking and see the heads shaking, “You are making too much of this.” Let me repeat. Over 700 thousand people use the system daily. They did not know until they were leaving work this afternoon that Metro would be shut down for the entire day on Wednesday. If you are a Lyft or Uber driver, you have loaded up on gum and mints and set your phone for Waze and Pandora. You are already in bed. Sleep well; midnight is coming! Click the links for each service (Lyft or Uber ) to sign up as a rider or get in the queue as a driver. This is your personal transportation backup plan.
My husband works at L’Enfant Plaza, the station where the last catastrophe occurred. That day while he was walking to the next station, I asked him what his group was supposed to do if there was a major transportation shutdown, as this is a high level risk with high impact in the continuity plans that I have written. He had no idea. Because his work deals with running the Headquarters (HQ) facility at L’Enfant Plaza, he could not do his work remotely. As he is part of the Postal Service, which is a quasi-governmental agency, OPM’s edicts may or may not apply to the HQ staff. I am keenly aware that his next Metro ride could be his last.
If your company did not have a plan to that you could email and text to your employees this evening, why not? Even if you do not live in the DMV, what would it mean to you if there was a station collapse at the Times Sq-42 St / 42 St in New York. A bus strike in Los Angeles? A CTA “sickout” in Chicago? How much money would your company lose? Is it a good policy to reimburse employees who use ridesharing services to get to work? What about lateness due to people having to catch the bus for the first time in their lives? How can you prepare for such an occurrence?
Proactive planning includes the street vendors and the aerospace engineers. The nannies and librarians need to know how to handle a major transportation shutdown. Notice that I said a “transportation shutdown”. This is not scenario planning! Manage your risks! If you live in the DMV, a tractor trailer turning over and spinning out of control on the Inner Loop near the Landover exit may (has) shut down the Beltway for six or seven hours. From nearby high schools to the White House, that is a high level risk because of the number of people who travel that corridor; local commuters, tourists, truckers coming from Maine and heading to Florida. Have you included this risk management procedure in your overall Business Continuity Management Plan? Take that plan out and review your risks and threats. If they are realistic, your plan should address them.