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Study shows 91% of Bay Area residents want ferries for disaster preparedness


February 24, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ninety-one percent of Bay Area residents think it is important to have a regional ferry system in place to help transport emergency supplies, goods and people after a disaster, when freeways, BART and bridges might be out of service, according to results of the 2006 Bay Area Council Poll released today. Of those, 65 percent think it is extremely important.

The Bay Area Council has advocated for the creation of a regional high-speed ferry network on the Bay to be available for recovery efforts following a disaster. A super majority of 91 percent of residents appear to agree.

Many recent reports delineate the severity of potential major disasters facing the Bay Area. According to the national Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 - reauthorized in December 2005 - Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco and Chicago are the areas most likely to attract terrorist attacks. Regarding earthquakes, an authoritative analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey found that there is a 2 in 3 chance of a major 6.7 earthquake or worse in the Bay Area in the next 30 years.

Unfortunately, Bay Area residents do not think the region is prepared for its next big earthquake. Despite the likelihood of a quake, 48 percent of residents think the Bay Area is either not at all prepared or not well prepared. Only 6 percent think the region is very prepared.

"Not putting ferries on the Bay for disaster recovery, with full knowledge of the threats, is like New Orleans not strengthening its levees, knowing the hurricane was on its way," said Jim Wunderman the president and CEO of the Bay Area Council.

"Ferries can turn the waters that divide our region from a transportation obstacle into a transportation asset. The painful lessons that emerged from recent disasters in the United States drive our passion to protect the Bay Area, and these poll results reinforce our resolve."

On September 11, 2001, the New York Waterway ferry service responded to the destruction of the World Trade Center towers within 15 minutes of the attack. Ferries helped evacuate more than 160,000 people from Manhattan on September 11, including over 2,000 injured persons within the first hour.

Considering the potential role they might play in a disaster, 73 percent of Bay Area residents believe it is an important or top priority that any new transportation monies available to the Bay Area from state and federal sources should be directed to expanding the regional ferry system.

Traffic is the number one problem facing the region according to earlier Council Poll results. Fully 68 percent of Bay Area residents favor expanding the water transit system on the Bay so that it connects the entire region for traffic relief.




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