National Academies Press: OpenBook

Managing Extreme Weather at Bus Stops (2017)

Chapter: Chapter One - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter One - Introduction ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Managing Extreme Weather at Bus Stops. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24806.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter One - Introduction ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Managing Extreme Weather at Bus Stops. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24806.
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5 BACKGROUND A chronic problem for transit operations involves keeping transit stops and associated transit infra- structure functional during and following extreme weather events. Interrupted access creates not only a major inconvenience for transit riders, but also a possible safety hazard for all passengers and a potential accessibility barrier for persons with disabilities. This synthesis, TCRP Project J-7, Synthesis Topic SA-39 “Managing Extreme Weather at Bus Stops” documents the management of extreme weather at transit agencies, with particular emphasis on systems in areas most likely to be affected by extreme weather. It identifies methods and procedures used for maintaining transit stops and associated transit infrastructure during and following extreme weather events, in particular: • Extreme weather plans before, during, and after; • Responsibility for ensuring that transit stops, infrastructure, and adjacent walkways are main- tained in the event of extreme weather; • Who performs the work; • Standards and specifications; • Experience with liability claims; and • Public service announcements (PSAs). This synthesis explores these issues and documents how agencies are responding to and managing extreme weather events across the country. The literature review, survey of selected transit agencies, and detailed case examples report on the state of the practice, innovations, challenges, and gaps in information. Overall, many agencies are struggling with extreme weather as snow, ice, heat, and mudslides increasingly become problems they have had to address more frequently over the past 5 to 10 years. The case examples augment and expand on the general survey to provide specific examples of how agencies are managing extreme weather. The study presents the information in a manner that will assist transit agencies as they assess cur- rent policies and identify actions that have been successful elsewhere. Finally, the study provides agency assessments of what they are doing, lessons learned, and obstacles overcome and how they overcame them. The study focuses on the collection of information from agencies across the country (plus one Canadian agency) and their actual practices. It does not include comprehensive information on the policies and extreme weather plans across the transit industry. However, agencies of all sizes partici- pated in the study, and common themes were identified. AUDIENCE This synthesis targets transit agencies with buses. Transit agencies with light rail fleets and street cars may find the study useful as well. STUDY METHODOLOGY To provide a comprehensive synthesis of managing extreme weather at bus stops, the study consisted of three parts: a literature review, an electronic survey, and the development of case examples to illustrate specific practices of managing extreme weather at bus stops. Agencies were chosen for the electronic survey based on their size and region of the country. chapter one INTRODUCTION

6 Forty agencies received the survey and 32 responded (80%). They ranged in size from the small- est agencies in the country to the largest, and geographically from the most northern regions of the country to most southern, representing both extreme heat and extreme snow and ice conditions. Some of the agencies serve large metropolitan areas and others provide service within counties between small cities and towns. Upon completion of the surveys, several agencies were asked to participate in more extensive interviews to provide case examples. The case examples illustrate extreme weather planning, gov- ernance, monitoring of bus stops, standards for clearing snow and ice, legal claims faced, and com- munication practices. LITERATURE REVIEW The literature review was undertaken to identify the current practices of managing extreme weather at bus stops. The review focuses specifically on extreme weather, changes in weather patterns over the past decade, and the expected changes over the next 50 years. It also presents case examples of related activities at various agencies and provided insights into the development of the electronic survey and the case examples. SURVEY With assistance and guidance from the topic panel, 40 U.S. and Canadian transit agencies were selected to participate in the synthesis survey. Transit agencies with large, medium, and small bus fleets ranging from fewer than 100 to more than 2,500 buses were included. Thirty-two of these 40 agencies completed the survey, for an 80% response rate. (The agencies are listed in Appendix B.) It is important to note that the information provided in the surveys was self-reported and is consid- ered confidential unless the agency agreed to participate in a case example interview. The in-depth interviews provided the information for the case examples found in chapters three, four, five, and six. CASE EXAMPLES Ten of the 32 transit agencies that responded to the survey were selected to provide case examples to demonstrate various practices and real-life experiences in managing extreme weather at bus stops. They shared details of their agency’s policies, situations, and current practices. The policies and practices vary depending on the experiences with extreme weather and new policies such as shut- ting down entire systems during an extreme event. The study depended on these agency-approved case examples to show the differences among the large, medium, small, state, and city run agencies. The case examples describe a variety of specific practices and demonstrate the various issues agen- cies are facing. CONTENT ORGANIZATION The report is organized as follows: Chapter two: Literature Review Chapter three: Survey Results and Extreme Weather Chapter four: Survey Results: Extreme Weather Planning Chapter five: Survey Results: Governance Chapter six: Survey Results: Legal Claims and Communications Chapter seven: Conclusions and Suggestions for Future Research The three appendices show survey responses (Appendix A), a list of the participating transit agencies (Appendix B), and samples of ice and snow removal policies (Appendix C).

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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 129: Managing Extreme Weather at Bus Stops documents current practices of transit systems to determine methods and procedures used for maintaining transit stops and associated infrastructure during and following such weather events. This synthesis provides a state-of-the-practice report on transit systems' management of extreme weather events; associated planning; management responsibilities; efforts to respond; standards and specifications; associated legal claims; and communication with customers.

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