Planning for Severe Weather Events in Public Transit Operations

University of Illinois at Chicago


This document is a Master’s Thesis developed for an Urban Planning and Policy program. It makes recommendations for implementing a severe weather planning process for transit agencies. To start, it reviews weather impacts on surface transportation and potential impacts of climate change. Severe weather events addressed include flooding, winter storms, ice storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. It also reviews some general guidelines for hazard mitigation, emergency planning, and continuity of planning operations. Recommendations made are based on feedback from 12 transit agencies of various sizes, with annual ridership ranging from 108,000 to 436 million. Agency planning processes, preparedness, collaboration, internal and external communications, service changes due to weather, and weather event procedures are summarized. A flowchart on page 23 summarizes the recommended severe weather planning process. It includes conducting assessments, identifying stakeholders, defining agency roles during an emergency (what kind of service to provide), preparing a communications plan, identifying service strategies, and performing evaluations and updates.

Source Organization Location

Chicago, IL

Operations Area of Practice

  • Transit Operations
  • Communicating Reliability Information
  • Interagency Agreements / Cooperation / MOUs
  • Planning for Operations
  • Emergency Transportation Operations
  • Road Weather Management
  • Traffic Incident Management

Organizational Capability Element

  • Planning
  • Emergency Transportation Operations
  • Road Weather Management
  • Traffic Incident Management
  • Local government/MPO/RTPA cooperation

Content Type

  • Research

Role in Organization

  • Associate Engineer
  • Engineer
  • Manager / First Line Supervisor
  • Principal Engineer
  • Researcher/Academic
  • Senior Engineer
  • Senior Manager
  • Transit Professional
  • Transportation Planner

Publishing Organization

  • Universities

Document Downloads

Prime Contractor
Sarah Jane Sherburn
Issue Date
April 8th, 2011
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