Officials at Houston Transtar say they learned some lessons from the traffic nightmare the Hurricane Rita evacuation caused last year, and they’ve made major changes on the Transtar website to help motorists get around town, and out of town, quicker and safer. Houston Public Radio’s Jim Bell reports.
Transtar Director Jack Whaley says it took having three million people trying to evacuate at the same time to shine a bright light on Transtar’s weaknesses. First, Transtar’s scope was expanded from metropolitan Houston to the 13 county southeast Texas region. Then more information was added to the website, from live traffic monitoring with nearly 400 cameras to real time information on hurricane evacuation routes when the need arises. Whaley says it’s all there every day, available to all, good weather and bad.
“So if you’ve got web enabled devices you can take a look at your commute before you have to make it. So I’ve got a Blackberry, and, you just click on it and it comes up with a picture right there on the device.”
Whaley says the most important addition is a hurricane icon, with up to the minute traffic conditions on evacuation routes in the event of a hurricane or some other large-scale emergency.
“It’s all about information. And we just feel that the more information that the traveling public has the better decisions they can make, and the better decisions they make the better off everybody is.”
Whaley says Houston Transtar’s website now has more options and more links with important, useful and visual information than any other transportation website in the country. He calls it “one stop shopping” for motorists. There’s a link to it on our website KUHF dot ORG. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.