Through the storm: Transit agency management in response to climate change

Qing Miao, Mary Feeney, Fengxiu Zhang, Eric Welch, P. S. Sriraj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The increase in extreme weather events due to climate change poses serious challenges to public transit systems. These events disrupt transit operations, impair service quality, increase threats to public safety, and damage infrastructure. Despite the growing risk of extreme weather and climate change, little is known about how public managers recognize, experience and address these risks. Using data from a national study of public transit agencies we investigate the types of extreme weather events transit agencies are experiencing, the associated risks, and how agencies are preparing for them. We find that while extreme events are commonly experienced by transit agencies across states and transit managers perceive increased risks from these events, most agencies rely on the traditional emergency management approach to address extreme weather ex post rather than taking a proactive approach to mitigating the adverse weather impact on transit assets and infrastructure ex ante. Managers report that a lack of access to financial resources is the greatest challenge for undertaking adaptation and preparation. We conclude with a discussion of what these findings mean for understanding organizational adaptation behavior as well as climate adaptation policy making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-432
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Climate adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Extreme weather
  • Public transit
  • Risk perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science(all)


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