National Academies Press: OpenBook
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM


TCRP RESEARCH REPORT 243


Transportation for People with Disabilities
and Older Adults During COVID-19

LESSONS FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Todd Hansen
Zachary Elgart
TEXAS A&M TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE

Houston, TX

Ipek Sener
TEXAS A&M TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE

Austin, TX

Patricia Bye
Holicong, PA

Subject Areas
Public Transportation • Society


Research sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in cooperation with the American Public Transportation Association


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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM

The nation’s growth and the need to meet mobility, environmental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Current systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is necessary to solve operating problems, adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions to meet demands placed on it.

The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report 213—Research for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration—now the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local, problem-solving research. TCRP, modeled after the successful National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs of transit service providers. The scope of TCRP includes various transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and administrative practices.

TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooperating organizations: FTA; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, acting through the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and APTA. APTA is responsible for forming the independent governing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Commission.

Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodically but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility of the TOPS Commission to formulate the research program by identifying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the TOPS Commission defines funding levels and expected products.

Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel appointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for proposals), select contractors, and provide technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative research programs since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without compensation.

Because research cannot have the desired effect if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminating TCRP results to the intended users of the research: transit agencies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, training aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are implemented by urban and rural transit industry practitioners.

TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can cooperatively address common operational problems. TCRP results support and complement other ongoing transit research and training programs.

TCRP RESEARCH REPORT 243

Project J-11/Task 42
ISSN 2572-3782
ISBN 978-0-309-70938-5

© 2024 by the National Academy of Sciences. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the graphical logo are trademarks of the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein.

Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, APTA, FAA, FHWA, FTA, GHSA, or NHTSA endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP.

NOTICE

The research report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors.

The Transportation Research Board does not develop, issue, or publish standards or specifications. The Transportation Research Board manages applied research projects which provide the scientific foundation that may be used by Transportation Research Board sponsors, industry associations, or other organizations as the basis for revised practices, procedures, or specifications.

The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the Transit Cooperative Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers’ names or logos appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report.

Published research reports of the

TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM

are available from

Transportation Research Board
Business Office
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

and can be ordered through the Internet by going to
https://www.mytrb.org/MyTRB/Store/default.aspx

Printed in the United States of America

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president.

The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.

The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.

Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.


The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major program divisions of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to mobilize expertise, experience, and knowledge to anticipate and solve complex transportation-related challenges. The Board’s varied activities annually engage about 8,500 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation.

Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAMS

CRP STAFF FOR TCRP RESEARCH REPORT 243

Waseem Dekelbab, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs

Gwen Chisholm Smith, Manager, Transit Cooperative Research Program

Dianne S. Schwager, Senior Program Officer

Dajaih Bias-Johnson, Senior Program Assistant

Natalie Barnes, Director of Publications

Heather DiAngelis, Associate Director of Publications

Ellen M. Chafee, Senior Editor

TCRP PROJECT J-11/TASK 42 PANEL

Field of Special Projects

Ross Silvers, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL (Chair)

Andrew L. Dannenberg, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Michael Greenwood, Access Services, Inc., El Monte, CA

Jacquelyne D. Grimshaw, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Chicago, IL

Deborah W. Matherly, Matherly Inclusive Resilient Transportation Associates, LLC, Lexington, SC

Sharon Montez, Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, Corpus Christi, TX

Jenifer Ross-Amato, WSP, Denver, CO

Vidhu Shekhar, Paratransit Inc., Sacramento, CA

John Whitman, Ride Connection, Inc., Portland, OR

Annette M. Williams, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco, CA

Susan A. Clark, FTA Liaison

Elliot Sperling, FTA Liaison

Matthew Dickens, APTA Liaison

Scott J. Windley, U.S. Access Board Liaison

Sarah Malaier, American Foundation for the Blind Liaison

Carrie Diamond, Easterseals Liaison

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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FOREWORD

By Dianne S. Schwager

Staff Officer

Transportation Research Board

TCRP Research Report 243 provides timely information regarding important lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic on providing transportation to people with disabilities and to older adults during emergencies. This research draws on the lessons learned from diverse communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, provides examples of successful strategies, and presents implementation methods that can be emulated. This resource will be of immediate use to transportation organizations, including transit agencies, specialized transportation providers, and other local government agencies and stakeholders throughout the United States.


Service changes during the pandemic across all transportation modes, not just ADA paratransit, affected people with disabilities and older adults. Some of the many challenges from the pandemic included impacts on available service capacity, scheduling trip reservations, service eligibility assessments, use of wheelchair lifts, boarding assistance, and wheelchair securement. Some customers also experienced rapid changes to service and safety guidance information, leaving them uninformed or uncertain about the level of safety when riding public transportation. Communication using multiple channels and methods to reach customers was critical for transportation organizations to effectively let customers know over time how their service was affected and what new service options were available. Transportation service continued to be a critical resource for these customers to access goods, services, and friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic; maintaining this access also helped prevent potential social isolation and worsening health outcomes.

Research was conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute on transportation organizations’ provision of services to people with disabilities and older adults during the pandemic. The objective of this research was to present strategies for public transportation agencies, paratransit providers, human service transportation providers, emergency planners, and partners of these organizations to prepare for and be ready to operate transportation services for people with disabilities and older adults during major service disruptions such as a pandemic, natural disasters, and other emergencies.

The research involved the following:

  • A literature review and industry scan. These were conducted to review available information about the pandemic experience thus far. The researchers requested information from transportation organization contacts through questionnaire responses, documentation, and virtual phone interviews to supplement published literature.
  • Outreach to customers. For additional contextual information, researchers conducted virtual focus groups with transportation organization customers on their firsthand experiences during the pandemic.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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  • Outreach to transportation providers. Finally, the research team conducted a virtual workshop with a mixture of large and small transportation organizations from across the United States to learn more about the effectiveness of actions taken in response to the pandemic and lessons learned on how organizations can better approach future emergencies.

TCRP Research Report 243 is intended to provide lessons from pandemic response practices for providing transportation to people with disabilities and older adults during emergencies. These examples can serve as a helpful guide for bolstering the resilience and responsiveness of transportation services for future emergencies while maintaining accessibility of service for riders. The report is supplemented by Accessible Transportation in Emergencies—Pocket Guide, which can be found on the National Academies Press web page for TCRP Research Report 243: Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response (https://doi.org/10.17226/27277).

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27277.
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The COVID-19 pandemic left many persons with disabilities and older adults without reliable transportation to access essential goods, medical care, and social engagements. Issues of social isolation for older adults were exacerbated with the emergence of COVID-19 because transportation service was reduced.

TCRP Research Report 243: Transportation for People with Disabilities and Older Adults During COVID-19: Lessons for Emergency Response, from TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program, aims to provide transportation organizations (including transit agencies, specialized transportation providers, and other local government agencies and stakeholders) with helpful information and strategies on providing service for persons with disabilities and older adults in emergency situations.

Supplemental to the report is a pocket guide.

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