Assessing Transit Agencies' Climate Change Adaptation Needs

John MacArthur, Portland State University


	Climate change is posing unique and unprecedented challenges for the Nation's transportation system. Changing weather patterns and their associated physical, financial, and social impacts are affecting or will affect the way transportation professionals finance, plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain the multimodal transportation infrastructure. Many state departments of transportation have started to focus attention on the issues of adaptation but transit agencies have not yet fully begun addressing the issue. Transit agencies could experience billions of dollars in infrastructure damage that could potentially be avoided with more robust data collection, planning, and design tools/methods for managing risks. Likewise, climate-related socioeconomic changes may also be occurring, but transit planners are currently ill-equipped to analyze the impacts and may be delivering transit projects that do not address future needs. To date, there is very little published literature focusing on adaptation and public transportation and limited activity by transit agencies. Most research and position papers focus on state DOTs, highways or transportation in general. This research will build on existing climate change and highway adaptation reports and projects but will focus on the specific needs of transit agencies, which have unique challenges and issues that many state DOTs efforts might not address. To this point, the Federal Transit Administration's Climate Change Adaptation website only has links to climate change studies related to transportation sector-wide impacts. The objective of this study is to generate a baseline understanding of current policy and program responses to climate change impacts at the public transportation agency level. Specifically, we were interested in the question of whether transit agencies are currently including climate change impacts or vulnerability issues in their decision and planning processes or collecting relevant data. The first component of the research will be national review of transit agencies to develop a baseline understanding of current policy and program conducted through literature review, conducting surveys and interviews. A second phase of the research will focus on developing a case study of TriMet, the public transportation agency in Portland, OR, to create a more detailed resource review and data needs assessment.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
May 31,2013
UTC Grant Cycle:
OTREC 2012
UTC Funding:

Other Products

  • Setting the Stage: Climate and Transit (PRESENTATION)