Policy and Guidance

Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook

Report 160: Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook for the Transportation Research Board.

By: Jim Caton & Andrew Lofton

Paratransit operators usually have little notice before an emergency hits: what steps can they take ahead of time to keep passengers and employees safe? In conjunction with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), our team of experts prepared the TCRP Report 160: Paratransit Emergency Preparedness and Operations Handbook. The handbook provides guidance and resources to help paratransit service providers prepare for, respond to, and recover from a range of notice and no-notice emergency events including accidents and incidents, acts of nature, hazardous material release, technological emergencies, criminal activity, and terrorism.

What’s Included

The handbook supports Americans with Disabilities (ADA) paratransit and general public demand-response operations.

One of the tools in the handbook is a field-tested Capabilities Assessment Checklist. This checklist can help agencies address critical paratransit emergency preparedness and operational issues. Additionally, bcg’s team developed a lessons-learned matrix of key findings and effective practices for urban, suburban, rural, and tribal paratransit operations for both notice and no-notice emergencies.

The Development Process

We began the development of the handbook by conducting a thorough review and analysis of paratransit emergency operations literature and materials and by developing a list of interview questions and an extensive questionnaire for the industry. We then conducted 60 interviews with over 150 local, state, and national experts in paratransit emergency preparedness and response. Through these interviews, our team was not only able to assess where real-life experience concurred with contemporary literature, but we also identified effective emerging practices not yet reflected in planning guidance.

Our research team also conducted two workshops where we presented the draft handbook to industry professionals. Through these workshops, we were able to gain valuable feedback and insight from urban and suburban paratransit managers, transit managers, emergency managers, first responders, and other partner agencies.

As evident by the COVID-19 emergency, we know that there are innumerable potential emergencies that can arise, and countless potential outcomes. It is vital that emergency personnel and industry professionals have the most comprehensive knowledge and resources on hand in order to handle these situations as safely and effectively as possible, and that is the goal of the handbook. To view the full handbook, you can visit the Transportation Research Board’s website.