Anyone 'Member a Gal Named Katrina?
I'm not sure what this really means. I've passed these signs on Old 41 in Bonita Springs for a while. "Bus Stop Temporarily Closed" it reads on most of them. Well, they've been closed for months. they closed while the road was widened, which is done, and they've never reopened. Today, while going to check a listing in Bonita Springs Golf and Country Club I passed this bus stop sign. It was covered with a cloth bag that reads "Bus Stop Closed". Directly under the bag announcement is the sign "Storm Shelter Pick Up Point".
While turning around to take the photo I filled with dread about the sign and what it means to the people who need to depend on the bus to get to where they need to be to keep themselves and their family safe. Trying to fight of thoughts of Katrina and people that were trapped because they didn't have transportation or enough money to buy fuel to use in their own cars I became curious and decided to figure out where to go if that bus stop was closed. Since main stream media won't cover it until it's a tragedy, I'll be the real Bonita Springs media.
I'm not a bus rider. I'm a runner and a walker and I do own a car so I have never counted on the bus for transportation or to save my life.
First, there is a phone number on the sign. If you're a local and lucky enough to have a phone I guess you can call. I sure hope you know the area code, because it isn't posted on the sign. If you're a tourist you'll have to figure it out.
Second, this particular bus stop is in Old Bonita Springs in an area of town with many people from all over the world. For many of these people, English is their second language, if they know English at all. I wonder if they realize the bus stop is closed. I mean, when push comes to shove, are they going to understand that the bus isn't coming?
We're just a few days after Fay and I don't know if those bags would come down if the storm threat were great enough. Would they be reactivated in an emergency?
I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. I have access to the internet. I thought I would go figure out, if I was a bus rider, where to go next if I needed to evacuate from the point of the closed bus stop, in the event I had to evacuate. Keep in mind, I am fairly certain that computer and internet access is a luxury in a few of the communities off of Old 41 so citizens would likely not have access to the web.
To begin with, I learned from the Lee Tran website that it is easier to apply to advertise on a bus than it is to find a bus to get to a shelter. That "advertise here" button is front and center on their site. I never did find storm evacuation information or an evacuation plan for bus riders.
I then tried to find the bus stops in Bonita Springs, Florida. I first had to go to a county wide system map to determine the "route number" I needed. It turns out I need to be on route 150 in Old Bonita Springs. The next closest bus stop is about a mile away at the corner of West Terry Street and Old US 41. The map doesn't say if it can take you to a shelter on the map. I'd have to drive by just to see if it is a shelter pick up point or if it even matters what stop you're at to be taken to a shelter.
Seriously, I can't be the only person that thought of this, can I? While East Bonita Springs is flooding and the Imperial River is cresting from Tropical Storm Fay I'm left wondering what happens if the water comes this way? Will the families and businesses on Old 41, the Plan of Riverside and Rosemary Park be left to fend for themselves?
It took a great deal of Googling on my part to find the Lee County Emergency Operations Center and a map of the route that "shelter pick up" will occur on. If you're curious, it's here: Shelter Route Pick Up Shouldn't this information be on the Lee Tran Site and posted at bus stops for the residents of Bonita Springs and Lee County who are unable to drive?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Shouldn't there be systems in place to help evacuees that depend on bus transportation to save themselves? Or am I the only one that paid attention to what happened in New Orleans?