Improving the Resiliency of Transit Systems Threatened by Natural Disasters

Congress previously authorized the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to administer emergency relief funds for public transit and appropriated $10.4 billion for Hurricane Sandy relief, nearly half of which will be spent on resiliency projects in the affected area. The lessons from rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy and other major disasters experienced throughout the country will help public transit systems that have not yet been affected (but are susceptible to flooding, high winds, earthquakes, blizzards and other natural disasters and climatic events) better prepare their assets and infrastructure for potential major events. By deploying resiliency strategies, public transit systems nation-wide could save billions of dollars in recovery costs. Research is needed to investigate measures that were undertaken or will be undertaken to protect public transit equipment, infrastructure, and operations from future weather events—measures identified from among those developed by public transit agencies that have experienced severe weather events. For each measure, analysis is needed to address: capital project planning and asset management, maintenance and operations, and administrative procedures. Research is also needed to address (1) situational assessment/risk analysis, including likelihood of a future hazard or disaster (vulnerability and criticality of assets, and extent of damage from previous hazards); (2) design criteria or operational concepts applied; (3) alternatives evaluated; and (4) rationale for selecting the option, including cost and anticipated reduction in damage or other negative impacts, including cost estimating and financing for capital planning. Information for this research will be gathered through targeted case studies and review of literature. Similarly, risk assessment techniques for planning for and predicting natural hazards are well advanced. Literature and case studies could yield numerous well-thought-out illustrative examples. Given the frequency, severity, and impact of natural disasters and climatic events in the United States, research is needed to develop strategies for public transit systems to improve their resiliency in order to better plan for, protect against, respond to, and recover from natural disasters and climatic events. The objectives of this research are to develop (1) a handbook with an associated suite of digital presentation materials to address planning principles, guidelines (including metrics), strategies, tools, and techniques to enable public transit systems to become more resilient to natural disasters and climatic events; and (2) a draft recommended practice for public transit resilience to natural disasters and climatic events suitable as input to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Standards Program. The handbook and its associated suite of digital presentation materials should be appropriately designed for use by public transit agency executive staff to plan, budget, and institutionalize effective practices to improve resilience, addressing (a) capital project planning and asset management (including financial planning and risk assessment for natural disasters and climatic events), (b) operations and maintenance, and (c) administration. They should provide sufficient detail to allow users to adapt them to their individual entities. Published as TCRP Web Only Document 70: Improving the Resilience of Transit Systems Threatened by Natural Disasters, Volume 1: A Guide, accompanied by Volume 2: Research Overview and Volume 3: Literature Review and Case Studies.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project A-41

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Parker, Stephan

  • Performing Organizations:

    Louis Berger Group

    30A Vreeland Road
    Florham Park, NJ  United States  07932
  • Principal Investigators:

    Matherly, Deborah

  • Start Date: 20150224
  • Expected Completion Date: 20170531
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170531
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37641

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01543504
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project A-41
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 16 2014 1:01AM