Transit’s Next Challenge: Climate Change

Extreme weather and erosion threaten transit infrastructure around the country.

1 minute read

November 10, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Train tracks along California coast with yellow wildflowers blooming on one side and blue Pacific Ocean on the other.

Martina / Adobe Stock

While transit agencies struggle to address the much-feared ‘fiscal cliff,’ physical cliffs pose another danger, writes Corrigan Salerno on Transportation for America.

As Salerno explains, “As climate change unfolds, transit will need the support to serve as communities’ resilient backbone through subtle, day-to-day challenges and demanding disasters.” In Southern California, one of the country’s top three busiest passenger rail corridors was disrupted for months due to coastal erosion that threatened the tracks. Now, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is preparing a study for a new alignment that will relocate the tracks farther inland. 

Salerno also points to the need for quick allocation and disbursal of emergency funds to repair weather-damaged infrastructure and restore service when disasters strike, similar to the FHWA’s Emergency Relief Program, which provides such funds for infrastructure repairs. “Just as repairs are needed for highways to continue functioning after a disaster, they’re needed to keep transit and passenger rail running on time so that people can get where they need to go.”

According to the article, “With the IIJA lapsing in 2026 and natural disasters on the rise with climate change, Congress needs to devise new policies to improve how the country restores public transit in the wake of earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and even the less dramatic, predictable emergencies.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 in Transportation for America

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