Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Planning, Design, and the Built Environment

Committee Chair/Advisor

Liska, Roger W

Committee Member

Ogle , Jennifer H

Committee Member

Sharp , Julia L

Committee Member

Myers , Laura B


Public transportation, with its open access, creates an opportunity for masses of people to be hurt while using transit services during human-made or natural disasters. This dissertation reviews the body of academic and professional literature and recent disaster events to characterize the current state of preparedness for disasters affecting transit systems in the United States, focusing on institutions of higher education, other post-secondary educational institutions, and the university/community transit systems providing services to these institutions. The nature of threats is examined, and institutional issues are explored to discover the level of disaster preparedness of university/community transit systems, and their ability to participate in the planning and organization, purchase of equipment, and training exercises for disaster events.
To identify potential gaps in disaster preparedness within university/community transit systems, multiple research objectives were developed: review international and national disaster events with emphasis on preparedness planning for transportation systems; examine federal disaster preparedness requirements to find are any proscribed plans transportation systems should be using; and determine how disaster preparedness planning is used in university/community transit system operations to support post-secondary institutions of higher education during a disaster.
The research question for this study is 'how are universities and communities planning for using or protecting transit systems and assets in disaster events?' hypothesis for this research is that university/community transit systems do have appropriately prepared emergency operating plans. A qualitative document analysis was conducted on university transit systems emergency operations plan documents and a quantitative survey was subsequently conducted with emergency managers working for, or transit system operators providing transit services to, post-secondary institutions of higher to determine if the university/community transit systems did or did not have an emergency operations plan.
Analysis of the survey results shows that university/community transit systems do not comply with the National Incident Management System, and do not have appropriately prepared emergency operating plans. It is recommended that all other post-secondary institutions of higher education, and transit organizations should develop comprehensive and holistic emergency operations plans, similar to the one developed for Clemson University as contained in Appendix A.



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