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May 23, 2011

Top Ten Things to Know Before You Go Transit in Severe Weather

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This spring has been a constant deluge of thunderstorms, wind and tornadoes in St. Louis and the entire Midwest. Due to the swift nature of these storms, with or without warning, here is a list of information you can use to help prepare yourself.

1. Take an umbrella or water-repellent jacket.

That’s what your mom told you to do, right? And sometimes it’s easy to forget these things when you are rushing out the door. But some sort of protective gear can help protect you against the elements, and make your ride much more pleasant than sitting soaked on a bus.

2. Wear comfortable shoes.

Those shoes? They are FIERCE. But they might be terrible for running across wet sidewalks or crossing ballasts. If you are transit commuting, you might want to think about having dry, walking or comfortable shoes for your trip.

3. Check the weather before you go.

If you can, get the latest on the weather before you leave the office or your home and check the Metro website for rider alerts you are aware of service disruptions and reroutes. That could save you time so you avoid the delays caused by fallen branches and storm debris. No one wants to be stuck at a bus stop when it’s thundering and lightening. Your safety should be your primary concern. If the option is available, think about waiting out the storm by staying close to safe shelter.

4. Do not self-evacuate.

If the train or bus slows down or pulls over, do not self-evacuate.  Do not leave the train or bus if the vehicle stops, even if the power goes down. There may be dangerous conditions outside the vehicle (including downed electric lines) or low visibility. Please stay in the vehicle, and follow the operator’s instructions. If you are on a platform or transit center, please move to a safe location or board any of the buses or trains. If you are in one of the underground MetroLink stations, please remain where you are.

5. Listen to the operator.

Listen to the operator for instructions on how to proceed in the case of a weather emergency. All operators (rail, bus and van) are trained on emergency preparedness, and they are communicating with dispatch and emergency response.  Please stay calm, and follow the operator’s lead.

6. If the operator is incapacitated, please contact dispatch or dial 9-1-1.

If the operator is incapacitated or unable to communicate, please use the Passenger Assist Telephone available on the platforms or the front of each train or dial 9-1-1. If you are on a bus or van, please call 9-1-1 and follow the dispatcher’s instructions.

7. In the case of high winds, MetroLink may stop in a tunnel or extended overpass.

During severe weather or tornadoes, MetroLink operators may pull into and stop at places along the alignment better suited for high wind conditions. MetroLink trains may stop at low-lying tracks, tunnels or under large overpasses. Again, please do not self-evacuate if the train stops.

8. If possible, move toward the aisle away from windows.

In the case of extremely high wind conditions, stay away from windows and doors to avoid broken glass. Cover your head and face if necessary.

9. Listen and look for instructions, and further updates.

After the storm has passed, listen to station and operator announcements, or follow rider alert on or @STLMetro on Twitter. Debris or power outages from the storm may cause delays, and reroutes and service disruptions are possible.

10. Don’t panic!

The most important advice is not to panic, but listen, look and be aware. Metro operators and personnel are trained for emergency response, and your safety is the most important part of any response. Staying calm and following instructions can be your best plan for safety.

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