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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25993.
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Page 7
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25993.
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Page 8

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This Transportation Pandemic Playbook (Playbook) is a practical guide for managing a transportation agency’s response to a pandemic, concentrating on WHAT needs to be done, WHEN, and by WHOM. For those agencies starting or revising their pandemic plan, Part 1 of the Playbook provides an overview of the characteristics of pandemics and their differences from other hazards, gives optional approaches to developing plans and programs, and identifies key questions to ask and decisions to make. It delineates the other organizations agencies are likely to encounter during a pandemic and approaches for working together. Part 2 articulates the challenges agencies and their leaders are likely to experience during a pandemic: • Lack of confidence by the traveling public • Morale and trust issues with employees • Possible loss of team bonds among staff • Stress and psychological considerations for staff, families, and community members • Increased expenses and reduced income • Unintended consequences of response actions For those agencies in the midst of a pandemic, the Playbook provides Plays (Part 3) for agencies and their leaders to consider, based on domestic/international research and interviews with key transportation leaders, from organizations large and small, throughout the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resourcefulness and innovation demonstrated as agencies rose to serve their communities during an unprecedented crisis was amazing and inspiring. Many of these innovations are highlighted as “Exceptional Ideas” within the individual Plays. The Playbook concludes with challenges in Part 4. As the Playbook was being written (September 2020), there was no end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations now must sustain operations into the foreseeable future and continue to both adapt to present conditions and create longer term plans. The Playbook includes a Play for Sustained Operations. SUMMARY Recognize the existence of the new environment Evaluate challenges and opportunities Need to adapt to resource constraints Speak the truth Plan accordingly Do the right thing Operate, then re-evaluate R E N S P D O Jim Archer, Director Service Planning, Scheduling and Evaluation, Houston Metro A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies 1

Essentials/Key Points • A pandemic emergency response is different for transportation agencies compared with other events in terms of timeline (extended and indeterminate rather than finite), impacts (no infrastructure impacts, but profound employee, community, and economic impacts), and transportation agency roles (support for health and other agencies). • Have the right people in place for a pandemic including an Industrial Hygienist or other medical professional to provide guidance and credibility to the agency mitigation and response efforts. • DOTs and transit agencies may have to adjust their working relationships and employee policies— from how work crews can travel together to a work site, to how transit operators interact with passengers, to closing facilities and enabling wide-scale work-from-home policies, to how transportation emergency managers interact with their counterparts within the agency and in the state emergency operations center (EOC). • Don’t be a vector for the pandemic. Protect your employees and the traveling public. Review all areas on the system such as roadside rest areas, vista points, and employee or public gathering places, that may be transmission points. • The extended, indeterminate timeline can lead to employee burnout and public complacency and non- compliance with protective measures. The extended timeline also complicates response to “normal” disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, heat events, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, and so on. • DOTS and transit agencies may engage in non-traditional but important support roles, such as providing essential equipment, food, and prescription deliveries; logistics support; screening passengers and highway visitors; traffic management for mass testing sites; and even contact tracing and helping with unemployment claims. • COVID-19 has had proportionately much greater adverse impacts on traditionally underserved populations and people of color than on traditionally privileged communities. Agencies generate and influence social and environmental justice impacts and unintended consequences, positive and negative, through their actions and inactions in pandemic response. • Pandemics emphasize an agency’s need to balance safety with service, a challenge transportation agencies wrestle with every day. Major challenges experienced during COVID-19 provide kernels of opportunity to emerge stronger, more resilient, more compassionate, and more connected as agencies and as individuals. • Potential silver linings include the ability to advance projects, pursue mainstream innovations, and establish more wide-scale and regular employee interactions. A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies 2

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Understanding pandemics, their impacts to transportation, and potential effective response has become more important, not only for the response to COVID-19, but also if, as the World Health Organization warns, we are now “living in a time of viruses.”

TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program and Transit Cooperative Research Program have jointly issued this pre-publication draft of NCHRP Research Report 963/TCRP Research Report 225: A Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies, which was created to improve transportation agency responses to a pandemic.

The Playbook concentrates on what needs to be done, when and by whom. It briefly addresses planning for a pandemic, a topic addressed in greater depth in NCHRP Report 769: A Guide for Public Transportation Pandemic Planning and Response. It summarizes effective practices currently used by transportation agencies based on interviews with state departments of transportation and transit agency leaders and operational personnel, supplemented with national and international research results.

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