During the COVID-19 pandemic, transit organizations took on roles outside of their normal scope of work to serve their communities. Some partnered with other public and private organizations to implement initiatives in response to the public health crisis, including but not limited to, providing access to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, delivering food and medicine, and providing internet access to support distance learning.
EBP, on behalf the Transportation Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), collected information on these partnerships through a literature review, online survey, and set of case studies. We documented how the partnerships formed, how they supported COVID-19 response and recovery, and how they promoted equity. We also identified challenges and success factors, noting lessons learned for future emergency response.
Our research found that many transit agencies drew on existing ties to organizations in their communities and leveraged these organizations in a variety of ways to understand community needs and provide non-traditional transit services. Agencies often relied on flexible emergency funding to launch these initiatives. In some cases, transit agencies used information such as on-board survey data and demographic data from the census to ensure their initiatives supported equity goals.