The National Academies

TCRP Synthesis J-07/Topic SA-61 [Active (Synthesis)]

State of Practice for Transit Recovery in the Aftermath of Severe Weather Events
[ TCRP J-07 (Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $55,000
Staff Responsibility: Jamaal Schoby
Research Agency: -----
Fiscal Year: 2023


TCRP Project J-07

Synthesis Topic SA-61

Transit Recovery in the Aftermath of Severe Weather Events





An increase in severe weather across the U.S. has led to increased impacts on transportation networks across the country. As a result, transit agencies need to have plans in place to appropriately react to and recovery from the impacts of natural disasters, such as: hurricanes, floods, winter storms, wildfires, and other severe weather events. This synthesis looks to examine how often transit agencies have recovery plans, and if the existence of a recovery plan impacts the “down period” of full service. While many agencies across the United States have both rail and bus operations, this synthesis is focused on bus operations only, as rail operations can be supplemented with buses in the interim.


While the expectation is that transit agencies are the most likely to have recovery plans to call upon in the event of severe weather impacting operations, as a result of their increased resources, smaller urban or rural transit agencies feel the impact of these disaster events more severely when compared to the larger agencies. This is a result of the greater resources available to transit agencies as they are more likely to be able to afford personnel such as emergency managers who write these dedicated recovery plans, where smaller agencies are often ran by only a handful of individuals where someone like a General Manager or Operations Manager may or may not have undergone emergency management training and doesn’t have the availability to write a recovery plan.


Synthesis Objective


The objective of this synthesis is to document the current state of practice around transit recovery plans (plans that direct transit agency actions as they transition from response to recovery), identify if the existence of these plans reduces operational downtime and look at key instances of short, and long-term recovery.


Information To Be Gathered:


·       A review of federal or state guidelines, regulations, or requirements for the existence of a recovery plan, if any exist (i.e., FEMA, FTA).

·       A review of current industry standards (APTA Emergency Management Standards, RTAP).

·       A review of relevant industries practices (e.g., Airports, utilities) and applicability to transit.

·       Analysis of recovery plans:

o   What is in them (common elements, missing elements, decision making processes, age, update frequency, etc.)?

o   What type of agencies have them (government types, modes, etc.)?

o   Who are the stakeholders in the plan development and plan implementation?

o   Who pays for the plan? Who pays for the recovery?

o   How does the plan prioritize community needs? Any equity considerations?


·       Discussion of average time frame from the beginning of recovery to a return to full-service.

·       Areas of operation most impacted.

·       Partnerships and coordinated recovery efforts.

·       Metrics utilized by transit in order to achieve a “successful recovery”.

·       Discussion of tools and technologies used before, during, and after response and recovery.

·       Emergency and recovery training for transit personnel.


How the Information Will Be Gathered


Information will be gathered by a literature review (e.g. agency reports, peer reviewed journal articles, web articles) and a survey on a broad range of North American transit agencies. The report should include five case examples that will gather information on the state-of-the-practice, emphasizing lessons learned, current practices, challenges, and gaps. The case examples should be conducted on agencies of different sizes and geographic areas, and should cover different modes, and different type of weather-related events (fire, flooding, hurricanes, winter storms, etc.).


Information Sources

 ·       TCRP Web Only Document 70: Improving the Resilience of Transit Systems Threatened by Natural Disasters, Volumes 1-3.

·       TCRP Web Only Document 75: Command-Level Decision Making for Transportation Emergency Managers

·       TCRP Report 225: A pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies

·       NCHRP 20-116 – Emergency Management Playbook for Transportation Agencies

·       TCRP Report 160 – Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook

·       Disaster Response and Recovery Resource for Transit Agencies (by FTA)

·       NCHRP Web-Only Document 206: Managing Catastrophic Transportation Emergencies: A Guide for Transportation Executives

·       NCHRP Report 753: A Pre-Event Recovery Planning Guide for Transportation

·       NCHRP Report 931: A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies

·       TCRP Research Results Digest 87: Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery in the Transit Industry

·       Emergency Management Planning for Texas Transit Agencies: A Guidebook (TTI)


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