Improving the Resilience of Transit Systems Threatened by Natural Disasters, Vol. 1: A Guide

The Transit Cooperative Research Program of the Transportation Research Board published a volume of three reports, titled “Improving the Resilience of Transit Systems Threatened by Natural Disasters.” Volume 1 is a Guide, Volume 2 is a Research Overview, and Volume 3 contains Literature Reviews and Case Studies. As climate exacerbated extreme weather events and natural disasters threaten operations and transportation assets, the Guide focuses on how to create resilient transit systems of all sizes. Additionally, the associated Improving Transit Resilience Database ( provides many resources and tools such as case studies, guidance documents, mapping tools, plans, templates and more.

The report describes a resilient transit system as one that avoids risk, or can absorb the impacts of disaster, recover and return to providing services quickly. The Guide shows how to identify and implement strategies to strengthen operations and infrastructure throughout an agency. Resilience measures are designed to be incorporated into transit agency policy, planning, asset management, capital investment, maintenance and operations.

The guide presents a basic four-step strategy to support an agency’s resilience planning process:

Step 1 - Get Started - describes several activities that support the advancement of or adopting resilience  planning into an agency. Generally, actions to get started support:

  • Understanding agency context
  • Engaging to plan
  • Identifying opportunities and barriers to greater resilience
  • Articulating a business case for resilience
  • Step 2 - Take Stock - introduces the risk and vulnerability assessment, and describes resilience adoption and processes to support resilience planning and implementation.

Step 3 - Move Forward - includes guidance on how to articulate a resilience vision, goals and desired short and longer-term outcomes for your agency; how to select and prioritize resilience strategies; how to develop strategy actions plans; and how to mobilize commitment to resilience implementation.

Step 4 - Monitor Progress - is designed to help choose resilience-related performance metrics, and establish a system for monitoring progress and evaluating success.

Each of the four steps include a number of strategies and approaches, synopsis of related case studies from transit agencies that have achieved the step, and links to the appropriate tools and resources found in Chapter 4. 

Chapter 3: Optimize Agency Resilience Interdependencies is focused on engaging a regional dialog about emergency planning and resilience, and  establishing regional partnerships. 

The fourth chapter on Resilience Adoption Tools and Resources provides agency case studies, and descriptions of resilience planning tools. It also provides profiles of analysis frameworks, guidance documents, data sources and other resources that can be downloaded from the database. (


Publication Date: December 18, 2017

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  • Planning guides

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