Mental Health, Wellness, and Resilience for Transit System Workers

The world is experiencing a pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. As a result, the President of the United States declared a National Emergency and all 50 states received a Disaster Declaration under the Stafford Act. Most governors put into place stay-at-home orders, with exceptions for essential services. Transit, in all its forms, is an essential service. Transit workers in general have risk for exposure to traumatic incidents in the workplace. Some workers exposed to such incidents may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, which can lead to absenteeism and workers compensation insurance claims. The pandemic poses a new set of challenges to transit agencies. There have been media reports have transit workers exposed to the virus and falling ill, and several hundred have died. The mental health implications of the stress of exposure, illness, and potential death has not been widely examined. Neither has the relationship between employee mental health and the viability of transit systems and the effect of these issues on the recruitment and retention of employees. The pandemic compounds the chronic stressors with a unique set of acute stressors that are amplified by the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) nature of the pandemic. These include potential personal exposure to the virus, as well as the potential to expose family members; the shortage or lack of personal protective equipment (PPE); and the problems associated with social distancing, job uncertainty, despair, workplace violence, extended or shortened hours, and disruption of work schedules and tasks. The most effective and efficient way to provide relevant and actionable information to transit systems on these topics would be to study the mental health wellness, and resilience of transit workers. This will require looking at the chronic stressors and outcomes in normal times and then exploring the acute issues of trying to survive in a highly exposed profession, amid a pandemic. The objective of this project is to research the factors that promote transit employee mental health, well-being, and resilience. This research will result in the identification of protective measures that transit organizations and individual workers can use to address both chronic and acute stressors. The project will address both internal (e.g., organizational changes and uncertainty) and external factors (e.g., lack of childcare and in-person school uncertainty, known victims, constantly wearing PPE) that contribute to the stress and mental health challenges.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $300000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project F-29

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Garcia-Colberg, Mariela

  • Start Date: 20201123
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01758788
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project F-29
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 23 2020 3:06PM