When we’re seeing the masses stranded in New Orleans, a common refrain I’ve heard is ‘Why didn’t they leave when they had the chance?’ The answer: they couldn’t. In 2002, the Times-Picayune published a series entitled “Washed Away,” describing the repercussions of a major hurricane.
“100,000 people without transportation will be especially threatened,” the newspaper wrote. “A large population of low-income residents do not own cars and would have to depend on an untested emergency public transportation system to evacuate them.”
Our insane addiction to cars in this country has finally left us with a publicly visible scar. If this had occurred in a European country (or really anywhere with a sizable rail system), more than likely a multitude of transportation options would have been available to citizens of an endangered metropolis. Those with means would drive or fly out, those without, could take the state operated railway out. But, again and again we’ve refused to build these systems in this country, relying instead on an over burdened interstate system that regularly receives failing grades from the ASCE.
How have we waited this long to develop these systems ?