National Academies Press: OpenBook

Managing Extreme Weather at Bus Stops (2017)

Chapter: Chapter Three - Survey Results and Extreme Weather

« Previous: Chapter Two - Literature Review
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - Survey Results and Extreme Weather ." 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 Three - Survey Results and Extreme Weather ." 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 Three - Survey Results and Extreme Weather ." 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 Three - Survey Results and Extreme Weather ." 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 Three - Survey Results and Extreme Weather ." 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 Three - Survey Results and Extreme Weather ." 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 Three - Survey Results and Extreme Weather ." 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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12 SURVEY A total of 32 of 40 (80%) transit agencies from across the United States and Canada completed the electronic survey 2016 (see Appendix A) The agencies range in size (from smallest to largest), region (every region in the country), and climate, and experience extreme weather conditions such as heat, snow, ice, mudslides, wind, and rain. The responding agencies are shown in Figure 2 (and listed in Appendix B). The survey was designed to collect information consistently across agencies. Although both qual- itative and quantitative information was requested, there was an attempt to minimize open-ended questions so that comparisons could be made across the agencies. Before the survey was distributed, the topic panel received all the questions and was provided with the opportunity to make comments. Surveying the large transit agencies was more difficult than surveying the small ones. In a number of cases, the large agencies are not primarily responsible for clearing bus stops. In several instances, municipalities are responsible for clearing the streets and associated bus stops. The responsibility for clearing the streets for the buses was well-defined; however, the responsibility for clearing bus stops was not necessarily as obvious, because it involves a team effort for a number of agencies and property owners. Size of Fleets The 32 transit agencies that responded to the survey varied in size from the smallest fleets in the coun- try to the largest, including MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) that has more than 5,000 buses and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) with more than 2,500 buses. Nine of the agencies (28%) have fleets with fewer than 100 buses. One-third of the agencies surveyed (34%) have between 101 and 500 buses, and the remaining agencies operate from 500 to more than 5,000 buses (Figure 3). Number of Bus Stops Of the 32 agencies surveyed, the number of bus stops ranges from 68 to 16,350. One-third admin- isters fewer than 3,001, another one-third between 3,001 and 6,000, and the remaining one-third more than 6,000 bus stops (Table 4). The largest agencies have more than 16,000. For purposes of this study, they are categorized as small, medium, and large transit agencies and addressed as such throughout (Figure 4). During extreme weather events, agencies are often forced to curtail their service. At such times, most of the agencies (18 or 56%) identify certain bus stops as priority stops. Some agencies identify certain routes instead of bus stops (Figure 5). They include emergency routes that must remain open for people to go to hospitals, urgent care centers, emergency locations such as police stations and fire houses, and places of employment. The routes are evaluated on the same criteria as bus stops and include (in order of number of responses): • Number of passengers, • Inter-connectivity to other buses or trains, chapter three SURVEY RESUltS AND EXtREME WEAtHER

13 TABLe 4 NUMBer OF BUS STOpS BY TYpe No. of Bus Stops Type No. of Agencies 0–3,000 Small 11 3,001–6,000 Medium 10 6,001+ Large 11 Source: Thomson Consulting. FIGURE 2 Map of surveyed agencies. Source: Thomson Consulting. 9 Buses (28%) 11 Buses (34%) 12 Buses (38%) 0-101 100-500 501+ FIGURE 3 Agency fleet size. Source: Thomson Consulting.

14 • population dependent on public transit, • ADA accessibility, • park N ride, and • express routes. According to the survey responses, nine of 11 large agencies identify priority bus stops during extreme weather; three of the ten medium agencies do not. One of the medium agencies has only one priority bus stop and it is at a transit center. Six of the 11 small agencies identify priority stops. EXtREME WEAtHER All regions have the potential to experience any or a combination of types of extreme weather. Twenty-two of the agencies surveyed (69%) experience snow, 22 (69%) experience ice, and five (16%) experience extreme heat. Others experience flooding, wind, and rain (Figure 6). 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Express Route Park N Ride ADA Accessibility Population Dependent on Public Transit Interconnectivity to Other Buses and Trains Number of Passengers it Serves FIGURE 5 Why are bus stops considered priority bus stops during extreme weather? Source: Thomson Consulting. 0-3000 Buses, 11 (34%) 3001-6000 Buses, 10 (32%) 6001+ Buses, 11 (34%) 0 - 3000 Small 3001 - 6000 Medium 6001 + Large FIGURE 4 Number of bus stops. Source: Thomson Consulting.

15 even those in the most comfortable climates have the potential to experience high heat. Two agen- cies reported that they do not experience extreme weather at any of their bus stops, although their qualitative responses indicated otherwise. They are preparing for tsunamis and high temperatures. The frequency of extreme weather events varies among the agencies surveyed; several agencies mentioned more than one. Snow is the most common extreme weather event and high heat the most frequent weather event. Although snow may last for days, it is considered one event; however, when there is a heat wave, each day may be counted as a single event. In addition, a hurricane that can dev- astate a region for months or years is counted as a single event. The agencies that responded to the survey reported a number of extreme weather events each year ranging from snow and ice to high heat. Most of the agencies noted that they primarily face the prob- lem of both snow and ice at bus stops; requiring clearing and a response so that customers can access the bus, the bus stops, and not be injured in the process. CASE EXAMPlE: MASSACHUSEttS BAY tRANSPoRtAtioN AUtHoRitY: StUDENtS WAit FoR BUSES iN StREEt For the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), heavy snow can pose a serious threat to service. For instance, the blizzards of 1978 and 2015 left users with severe disruptions of service and problems with the safety of these services. In 2015, schools in the region were closed for days after the snowfall, partly because children’s access to bus stops was limited. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh explained on January 28, 3 days after the snow that, “I have grave concerns about the status of our sidewalks and the well-being of students walking to and from their bus stops, or needing to stand in the street when they are waiting for the bus.” Although many roads, bus routes, and trains had reopened, buses remained less than accessible in many areas owing to uncleared sidewalks and bus stops (Schworm et al. 2015) The 1978 blizzard—which came in two parts, one in January and one in February—crippled MBTA for months after the storm, although this was mostly the result of overcrowded conditions. After a driving ban was implemented but commuter trains were allowed to keep running, the system suffered such a strain that a 25% reduction in commuter rail service was necessary for repairs for 2 months following the event (Kaiser 2015). 0 5 10 15 20 25 Snow Ice Heat Flooding Rain Wind FIGURE 6 What extreme weather does your agency primarily face at bus stops? Source: Thomson Consulting.

16 CASE EXAMPlE: St. loUiS tRACKS EXtREME WEAtHER FoR RiDERSHiP PAttERNS To provide a better understanding of the time and effects of extreme weather, St. Louis Metro believes that weather plays a significant role in determining ridership patterns on a daily and monthly scale. It tracks general weather patterns and weather events by day, superimposed with ridership so that a swift ridership dip or upward swing from month-to-month or year-over-year may not be mis construed as a portent for likely ridership patterns in the long run. Similarly, the data are used to help determine the likely beginning of a sustained pattern of depressed or increased ridership after controlling for weather events. To illustrate, St. Louis Metro provided a sample of its October rid- ership & possible Service Impacts for MetroBus (MB) and MetroLink (ML), their light rail transit (Figure 7). The effects of extreme weather generally last for a few days (Figures 8 and 9). Snow often remains on the ground for days and/or another storm can dump more on top. Some agencies that experience a large number of snow events also experience high heat events. Heat waves can go on for days or weeks with no reprieve. Agencies that experience primarily snow or ice have fewer than ten such events per year. Agencies exposed to high heat (over 90°F) typically have more days of extreme weather: 20 plus days per year. FIGURE 7 October ridership and possible service impacts for MetroBus (MB) and MetroLink (ML). Source: St. Louis Metro.

17 As shown in the literature review, climate change is occurring and extreme weather is becoming the new norm. When agencies were asked if the number of extreme weather events has increased within the past 5 to 10 years, 15 (47%) stated that they have. In addition, the severity of the weather events has taken a toll on transit agencies, such as those in the Northeast when Hurricanes Sandy and Irene slammed New Jersey, New York, and pennsylvania. Agencies that have not experienced mud slide in the past have experienced them in recent years. In recent years, agencies have reported witnessing an increase in the number of extreme weather events. As shown in Figure 10, snow and ice events are the most common. One agency reported that the most common extreme weather event is heat; however, it is experi- encing more ice events than in the past. That same agency is also experiencing flooding in ways it has not in the past. FIGURE 8 How many extreme weather events per year does your agency have that affect bus stops on average? 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Express Route Park N Ride ADA Accessibility Population Dependent on Public Transit Interconnectivity to Other Buses and Trains Number of Passengers it Serves FIGURE 9 Snow and ice: number of events experienced per year. Source: Thomson Consulting.

18 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Snow Ice Heat Rain Wind Mud Slide Hurricane FIGURE 10 What extreme weather events have increased in number over in recent years? Source: Thomson Consulting.

Next: Chapter Four - Survey Results: Extreme Weather Planning »
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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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