Transit: Adaptation and Resilience Planning for Providers of Public Transportation

The planet’s climate is changing, and this is producing impacts on local transportation systems such as sea level rise, changes in temperature and precipitation, and increased flood risk. In order to maintain the resilience of the transportation system in light of these challenges, local agencies will have to analyze the potential impact of these challenges in their long range capital planning.

In FY 2017-19, SCAG engaged consultant assistance to prepare resources for providers of public transportation in the region to respond to expected challenges as a result of global climate change. This work, funded by a Caltrans Statewide and Urban Transportation Planning Grant, sought to assist transit providers with incorporating climate change adaptation into their existing processes.

The consultant team produced a toolbox of resources to be used to identify critical assets and routes; integrate climate considerations into local and regional planning processes; and implement adaptation practices to improve transit system resilience while complying with state and federal regulations. These resources were developed via a collaborative process with local agencies, through in-person workshops and panel reviews to develop a toolbox of resources that will assist transit agencies in completing these activities with limited resources. This project, including the final “Climate Resilience Toolbox”, achieved the following five objectives through engagement with transit agencies and completion of project deliverables:

  • Objective 1 – Provide an actionable climate adaptation and resilience plan. The Toolbox empowers transit agencies to conduct their own high level criticality and vulnerability assessments efficiently and cost-effectively, enabling them to quickly move to adaptation planning and implementation.
  • Objective 2 - Identify critical assets and routes. Through collaboration workshops with local transit agencies, resources for determining the criticality of existing transit assets were developed.
  • Objective 3 - Integrate climate change forecast data. The Toolbox provides guidance for transit agency staff seeking to access and apply local climate change projection data. The toolbox also includes a summary of projected changes in climate in the SCAG Region, reducing the need for transit agencies to locate and interpret projected climate trends themselves.
  • Objective 4 - Increase regional transit system disaster recovery and resilience. Collaborative workshops allowed us to work with local transit agencies to begin and continue to promote transit system resilience. The Toolbox also includes resources to assist agencies in pursuing climate resiliency initiatives.
  • Objective 5 - Support local planning efforts. The Toolbox includes guidance for integrating climate change information and considerations into existing processes, including those required by local or federal standards.

The final adaptation toolbox includes eleven different elements, based on input from the workshop process, and intended to help guide providers to improve their resilience climate change related stresses.

  1. Projected Changes in Climate in the SCAG Region
    Overview of projected changes in sea level, extreme precipitation, inland flooding, and extreme heat across the SCAG region.
  2. Assessing Vulnerability and Consequences: Getting Started
    Guidance on articulating goals, refining the assessment focus, and using available frameworks and other resources.
  3. Integrating Climate Change into Transit Planning Processes
    Overview of how climate change resiliency can be worked into three key transit processes: procurement/contracting, transit asset management, and short range transit plans.
  4. How to Obtain Detailed Climate Projection Data
    For some analyses, detailed data are needed. This resource provides guidance on where and how to obtain this information.
  5. Assessing Criticality
    Some agencies may wish to focus efforts on the most critical components of their system. Different approaches for assessing criticality are discussed, and a scoring system to rank assets based on criticality is presented. The accompanying Excel spreadsheet helps automate criticality calculations.
  6. Sensitivity Matrix
    Simple to use Excel matrix discusses how common transit assets may be sensitive to changes in climate.
  7. Example Adaptation Measures
    Discusses different categories of adaptation measures, and gives examples of actual adaptation measures being implemented by transit agencies. The accompanying Excel file allows these measures to be filtered by type.
  8. Tips for Selecting and Implementing Adaptation Measures
    Provides suggestions to consider when determining which adaptation measures are right for your agency.
  9. Climate Resilience Planning Template
    Simple template that outlines roles, responsibilities, timelines, and key next steps in the resiliency planning process.
  10. Contingency Plan Template
    Template for developing a contingency plan in advance of adverse climate events.
  11. Transit Resiliency Funding Opportunities
    Profiles five state and federal grant programs that could be used to fund resiliency efforts.