Thursday, March 30, 2006

Public Transit and TDM Response to Pandemic Influenza

Researchers at the Center for Urban Transportation Research have begun to investigate and seek funding to study the impact of pandemic flu on public transit as well as the potential role of public transit and TDM agencies in such an emergency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when a pandemic flu strikes the United States. Currently, federal and state governments are developing plans to respond to a pandemic flu. At this point, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HSS) National Plan only contains a statement referring to the closure of public transportation as a community containment measure.

Health departments and emergency operations centers at the local level will bear the burden of response to a pandemic. The proposed research will develop an action plan for transit agencies to provide resources and assistance in coordination with local emergency responders. This action plan also would help transit agencies safeguard staff, prepare for workforce disruptions due to mass illness, develop contingency systems to maintain essential or altered service during quarantine and mitigate the impact of shut downs. The research will also look at how TDM agencies and organization can help employers prepare response plans that may heavily rely on telecommuting and the maintenance of the communication infrastructure.

Since a pandemic could occur at any time, it is important to provide a useful products as soon as possible followed by products that provide more specific planning strategies. For transit agencies, the first product will be a Transit Agency Checklist, modeled after the checklists designed by the HHS and CDC for families and business. The final product will be a detailed guidebook for transit agencies to customize their own Pandemic Flu Action Plan. On the TDM side, CUTR will look into developing a toolkit that TDM professionals can use to help employers develop a response plan.

We are very interested to hear from others concerning TDM's potential role in responding to a pandemic or how they plan to become involved in the local prepartation process.


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