How Transportation Planners Managed the Evacuation of Tokyo

InTransition magazine examined the daunting difficulties transportation authorities and the public faced while trying to evacuate Tokyo on the day of the Great Tohuku Earthquake in March.

The article reports that despite a "synchronous failure" of the region's transportation network, infrastructure and technologies, people overall managed to keep calm and get home safely.

"It was 2:46 p.m. on a Friday, three hours before most of Tokyo's huge population of office workers would head home. The transit system was busy with typical off-peak riders, such as shoppers, tourists and children returning from school. With the confirmed detection of a major earthquake (the exact magnitude was, at first, underestimated), all of the major trains were shut down on the spot by operators whether they had power or not. ..."

"[O]f all places, Tokyo, with its huge LED displays and bright-as-daylight-even-at-night intersections, has so often served as the ultimate showplace: Here is how the future will look and how it will work. But the earthquake kicked it over as easily as Godzilla wreaked havoc on cardboard and plaster versions of Tokyo in one of the old movies. Those modern pieces of infrastructure-all hooked together like nerves and circuits to make the city actually run-failed. Sometimes they failed singly, sometimes in groups, but altogether they left a very large metro- politan area minus much of its vital infrastructure, including, of course, the rail systems that weave Tokyo and the larger Kanto area together. ..."

Thanks to Karl Vilacoba

Full Story: How a Shaken City Kept Steady Nerves

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