Crisis Management: Are Public Transportation Authority ...
Crisis Management: Are Public Transportation
Authority Leaders Prepared?
Wanda F. Lester, Ph.D.
Vereda J. King, Ph.D.
Urban Transit Institute
North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
B402 Craig Hall
1601 East Market Street
Greensboro, NC 27411
Telephone: (336) 334-7745 Fax: (336) 334-7093
Internet Home Page: http://www.ncat.edu/~traninst
U.S. Department of Transportation
Research and Special Programs Administration
Washington, DC 20590
The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors who are responsible for the facts and the
accuracy of the information presented herein. This document is distributed under the sponsorship of the
Department of Transportation, University Research Institute Program, in the interest of information
exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the contents or use thereof.
1. Report No. 2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient’s Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle
5. Report Date JANUARY 31, 2006
CRISIS MANAGEMENT: ARE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
6. Performing Organization Code
8. Performing Organization Report No.
7. Author(s) WANDA F. LESTER, Ph.D., VEREDA J. KING, Ph.D.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address 10. Work Unit No.
Urban Transit Institute
The Transportation Institute 11. Contract or Grant No.
NC A&T State University DTRS93-G-0018
Greensboro, NC 27411
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address 13. Type of Report and Period Covered
US Department of Transportation FINAL REPORT
Research and Special Programs Administration JANUARY 2004 TO JANUARY 2006
400 7th Street, SW
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
Washington, DC 20590
15. Supplementary Notes
The events of September 11, 2001 shocked the world. For the citizenry of the United States, these events were
life changing. The loss of human life, the destabilization of families, organizations, corporations, and
industries by extreme and unforeseen circumstances destroyed confidences in the basic securities most people
had come to take for granted. Private and public entities learned the meaning of the term crisis management
and these entities learned that crisis management is a leadership issue. Public transportation services in New
York and Washington, DC were immediately disrupted, but the public transit systems across the country and
even globally face equal risks. The continuation of reliable, safe public transit services is vital for effective
physical and economic community development, yet little is known about the response of transit authority
leaders during crisis events. The current research begins a three-phased approach to understanding the
willingness and capacity of public transportation leaders to champion, plan, and implement the tasks associated
with effective crisis management. We posit the notion that crises are preceded by cognitive, organizational,
and political factors that limit the implementation of effective policies and procedures to avoid critical
response failures. In this first phase of the study, we examine the structural and organizational dimensions of
Region 4 of the Federal Transit Administration, which comprises 69 transit authorities across eight
southeastern states. This first-phase study concludes with procedural next steps to conclude the work through
survey and on-site visits in phase 2, and collaborative leadership studies in phase 3.
17. Key Words 18. Distribution Statement
Crisis effectiveness, crisis management, transit leaders
19. Security Classif. (of this report) 20. Security Classif. (of this page) 21. No. of Pages 22. Price
UNCLASSIFIED UNCLASSIFIED 18 N/A
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary ................................................................................... i
Crisis management requires leaders to respond to devastating events with boldness,
clarity, and conviction. Crises occur in every walk of life and, while some garner the attention of
the world, other events can be equally as destructive to a neighborhood, a community, a city, or
even a region of a country. The events of September 11, 2001 shocked the world. For the
citizenry of the United States, these events were life changing. The loss of human life, the
destabilization of families, organizations, corporations, and industries by extreme and unforeseen
circumstances destroyed confidences in the basic securities most people had come to take for
granted. Private and public entities learned the meaning of the term crisis management and, more
importantly, these entities learned that crisis management is a leadership issue.
Public transportation services in New York and Washington, DC were immediately
disrupted, but the public transit systems across the country and even globally face equal risks.
The continuation of reliable, safe public transit services is vital for effective physical and
economic community development, yet little is known about the response of transit authority
leaders during crisis events. The current research begins a three-phased approach to
understanding the willingness and capacity of public transportation leaders to champion, plan,
and implement the tasks associated with effective crisis management. We posit the notion that
crises are preceded by cognitive, organizational, and political factors that limit the
implementation of effective policies and procedures to avoid critical response failures. In this
first phase of the study, we examine the structural and organizational dimensions of 69 transit
authorities from Region 4 of the Federal Transit Administration. These transit agencies represent
eight southeastern states. This first-phase study presents foundation building research supporting
the need for an interdisciplinary leadership perspective when addressing immediate and
smoldering crises. We then present summary information about the sample organizations
selected from Region 4. The study includes only those agencies that have reported transit
information to the National Transportation Database for at least two years and that maintain an
operational fleet of busses. Phase One of the study concludes with procedural next steps to solicit
and analyze survey data and to engage in face-to-face structured interviews with a sub-sample
group of transit leaders in Phase Two. The final phase of the study, planned for June 2006,
involves the introduction of a training seminar for transit leaders. The three-phased approach
provides a complete view of the current status of the transit agencies with respect to crisis
management preparedness and the learning that takes place over the period of study.
ARE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY LEADERS PREPARED?
Mitroff and Harrington’s (1996) article, Thinking About the Unthinkable, presented a
startling warning to corporate boards of directors: “Run. Hide. Do what you will to avoid a crisis,
but be forewarned: Despite all your valiant efforts, a crisis is sure to find its way to your
company’s doorstep” (p. 44). On September 11, 2001, the most unthinkable crisis found its way
to the doorstep of every American, and the concept of crisis management was immediately
changed forever. Lives were lost, confidences were shaken, and public transportation services
were immediately disrupted. Yet managing crisis situations cannot be viewed only from the
perspective of the obvious destruction. Crisis management is a leadership issue (Hesselbein,
2002) and it requires leaders who are both courageous and willing to attack the causes of failure
on multiple levels.
The terrorist attacks and the following Antrax scare fostered the growth of a new security
industry. The public was introduced to high-technology detection devises, disaster simulations,
and crisis management teams; at the federal level, the United States formed a broad-powered
Department of Homeland Security. However crises continue, causing vast losses of life and
property, and severe disruptions of necessary services. Public transit systems remain one of the
most vulnerable services. Recently, these services, which are vital for the continuity of effective
physical and economic community development, have been disrupted by natural disasters, labor
strikes, and operational inefficiencies.
The public transit systems of America’s rural and small cities are as much at risk to
experience crisis situations as large urban cities. Crisis management research indicates that
individuals are often rationalize the likelihood for crisis situations and impede preparedness
(Pearson and Mitroff, 1993). One of the most prevalent misconceptions about crises is the
recurring belief that the disaster will not happen here (Janis, 1989). Numerous transit studies
have examined transit security operations, but only a few have focused specifically on the
strategic issues facing public transit leadership issues (Ugboro & Obeng, 2005). We found no
studies that examined the cognitive issues that inhibit the preparedness of transit leaders for
emergency situations. This research initiates that discussion by reviewing the literature related to
crisis management and examining the structural and organizational dimensions of regional
transportation authorities. First we examine the concept of “predictable” crises and the cognitive
biases that may impact responsiveness. Then we examine the organizational structure of the
transit authorities and identify some areas that inhibit effective communication and the
development of leadership-role development among subordinates within the organization.
Finally, we develop survey questions and an approach for field testing our preliminary
investigation. The next section presents a review of the literature relative to crisis management
and cognitive biases.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
Sudden crises – natural disasters, fires, storms, explosions – are most likely to come to
mind when one thinks of events that will have a negative impact on the work environment.
Sudden crises are described as business disruptions that occur without any significant warning.
However, the Institute for Crisis Management at George Washington University found that, since
1990, up to 75 percent of the crises reported in media represented “smoldering crises.”
Smoldering crises begin as small, internal problems that, because of a lack of appropriate
managerial attention, become large, public problems. Mitroff and Harrington (1996) refer to
these smoldering crises as human-caused crises that most often represent “defects within the
larger organization or system” (p. 43). These authors note that these human-caused crises almost
always leave a trail of early-warning signals. Two major challenges limit detection: recognition
Crisis situations significantly constrain opportunities for rational decision making. In
critical times it is unlikely that all of the facts will be available or that the best solutions will
surface. Seminal research by March and Simon (1958) and Cyert and March (1963) found that
managers must often act under conditions of bounded rationality. Under periods of uncertainty
and ambiguous organizational goals, decisions are deferred to management coalitions that further
constrain these processes. The intent of individual managers may be one of rationality, but
human cognitive limitations and constraints with respect to time and resources force alternative
solutions. Organizations accept the satisfactory rather than optimal level of performance. Cyert
and March refer to this form of decision making as satisficing. We can anticipate that immediate
crises inhibit thoroughness and enhance opportunities for bounded rationality.
Proposition 1: The greater the immediate crisis, the greater the association will be
between coalition-based decision making and satisfising behaviors.
Research by Bazerman and Watkins (2004) suggest that some sudden crises and disasters
are in fact “predictable surprises.” They find that these situations arise when persons in authority
lack the courage, and even the political will, to act decisively when presented with strong
organizational barriers. Referring to the tragedies of September 11 as “predictable neglect,”
Bazerman and Watkins detail specific activities that leaders considered and failed to act on that
may have prevented, or at a minimum mitigated, the enormity of the crisis. Following the 1996
mid-air explosion of TWA Flight 800 that killed all 230 passengers, President Bill Clinton
established the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security and designated Vice
President Al Gore as Commission chairman. Within a few months, the powerful commission
presented a report to the president requesting significant increases in airline security. On
September 9, 1996, President Clinton proposed a sweeping $1.1 billion package to improve
aviation security and combat terrorism (Nomani, 1996). However, within a two week period,
following heavy lobbying from the industry and concerns over political posturing by a
Democratic administration in an election year, the tough recommendations for reform were
relaxed to a computer simulation of the effects of implementation on air traffic. A revised final
commission report, with no specified timetable for implementation, was submitted to President
Clinton in February 1997. The only committee member objection came from Commissioner M.
Victoria Cummock who, only after a successful lawsuit, gained authorization to attach a
dissenting comment to the document. On 9/11, when few of the recommendations had been
implemented, Ms. Cummock’s (1997) comments attached to the commission document were
In summary, the final report contains no specific call to action, [and] no
commitments to address aviation safety and security system-wide by mandating
the deployment of current technology and training, with actionable timetables and
budgets. Later attempts to track these recommendations will result in problems
with differing agency interpretations, misunderstandings, and outright opposition
to implementation by individuals and/or organizations who oppose the specific
The similarities between aviation safety and security have a bearing on related concerns
in the area of public transit. Bazerman and Watkins’s (2004) specifically raise this point by
noting that “in the early days of commercial aviation, airplanes were as unprotected as city buses
and trains are today.” (p. 18). Some would strenuously debate this assertion, but the conflicts that
arise based on political and organizational differences cannot be ignored. Bazerman and Watkins
define a predictable surprise as one that occurs when leaders have all the data and insight they
need to recognize the potential for a crisis but fail to respond with effective preventive action.
Stakeholders expect leaders to be prepared for any crisis, and they further expect that these
leaders will take the actions necessary to protect the public, limit harm, and compensate
damages. Bazerman and Watkins describe these leadership difficulties as cognitive,
organizational, and political root causes of failure. These authors observe that at each of these
levels leaders facilitate predictable surprises by failing to act on known information. These
causes are described below.
• Positive illusions – an assumption that the problem either does not exist or the
severity of likelihood of the problem does not merit action
• Egocentric interpretations of events – when considering solutions to potential crisis,
the leader allocates credit or blame in ways that are self-serving.
• Discount the future – fail to act immediately to prevent a potential disaster because it
• Maintain the status quo – leaders do not believe drastic action will occur if they fail
to address the problem
• Lack vivid data – often problems are not fixed until they are personally experienced
or until individuals can imagine themselves, or those close to them, in peril
Organizational Process Failures
• Failure to allocate adequate resources to collect information about emerging threats
• Reluctance to disseminate information deemed too sensitive to share
• Gaps in individual knowledge
• Failure to integrate knowledge that is available but not dispersed across the
• Individual negligence and malfeasance
• Ambiguity in defining and assigning responsibilities
• Lapses in capturing lessons-learned
• Human resource turnover that results in losses of institutional memory
Special interest groups play a significant role in shaping the response of leaders in their
service to various constituencies. Over time such groups have advocated for reforms that
have improved the society at large. While in other instances, the advocacy has been
designed to benefit only the member group. When influential groups are narrowly
focused the end result can become a burden on the broader society. With respect to public
transportation, narrowly focused groups advocate for the curtailment of recommendations
that appear to increase corporate costs or public taxation. However, the burden for narrow
stakeholder concessions often results in safety and security laxities that negatively impact
the broader community.
Cognitive biases, failures in organizational processes, and political actions represent failures
on multiple levels and contribute to overall managerial pressures. These failures individually
and/or collectively contribute to sub-optimal decision-making.
Proposition 2: Under extreme pressure managers will exhibit more vacillation in
their strategic behaviors than managers under low/moderate pressure.
Crises Leadership – The Impossibility and the Opportunity
Boin and Hart (2003) observe that “crisis and leadership are intertwined phenomena”
(p. 544). In periods of crisis, leaders are expected to take some action, and when that action
renders satisfactory results, the leaders become heroes. Conversely, when the results are not
satisfactory or the crisis continues, the leaders become the scapegoats. The current society is
highly media focused and failures or successes by leaders in crisis situations gain immediate
public exposure. When considered under the lens of the causes for failure observed by Bazerman
and Watkins (2004), the level of media focus increases the complexity of the crisis. Hurricane
Katrina, historically America’s most devastating natural disaster by all relevant measures,
exhibited failures on all levels: cognitive, organizational, political, and sociocultural (Fox, 2005;
Alter, 2005). As the dedicated twenty-four hour television coverage of the crisis increased public
awareness globally of the multiple failures, research indicates that little is known about crisis
communication in the public sector (Horsley and Barker, 2002).
Boin and Hart (2003) call public leadership in times of crisis a mission impossible. These
researchers identify community expectations for leadership in six areas and juxtapose these
against research findings that render the public leader incapable of meeting the expectation.
Table 1 present their findings regarding the public expectations and the challenges experienced
by leaders. Despite the dire picture of hopelessness Boin and Hart present, they foster the notion
that crises also present important opportunities for organizational change and program reform.
Leaders can use these opportunities to reaffirm collective core values, restore political
confidence, and create an impetus for quicker more effective decision-making processes.
Table 1 – Boin and Hart, 2003
Public Expectation Leadership Challenge
Leaders should put public safety first Because of economic and political costs,
leaders settle for sub-optimal levels of
Leaders should prepare for worst case Most government and business leaders are
Scenarios reluctant to prepare for crisis-response
Leaders should head warnings about In human-caused disasters, most policy-
future crises makers misinterpret or ignore signals of
Leaders take charge, providing clear Crisis management crosses boundaries
direction to crisis-management operations that demand lateral, not top down,
command and control
Leaders should be compassionate towards In a desire t exhibit care, leaders make
victims in word and deed unrealistic promises
Leaders strive to learn lessons after a Leaders get caught in the politics of
Crisis blaming, and learning becomes limited in
Proposition 3: The more effective the manager is in resolving the crisis, the
greater will be the manager’s attention to initiating change.
Proposition 4: The less effective the manager is in resolving the crisis, the greater
will be the manager’s attention to maintaining the status quo.
Interdisciplinary Perspective on Crisis Management
Crisis management scholars have suggested criteria for judging crisis management
effectiveness (Quarantelli, 1998), but Pearson and Clair (1998) note that from a practical
perspective, differentiating effective and ineffective management has been problematic. They
observe that the literature offers extensive “speculation and prescription” (p. 73) but little
empirical testing. For example, these authors question whether it is sufficient to deem an
outcome effective if only the financial expenditures resulting from the event were manageable?
How does one view the same outcome if we now add information indicating that early warning
signs preceding the disaster were ignored, plans and preparations for such an occurrence were
inadequate, and early false statements were released to the public to limit negative reactions?
Even further, if no organizational learning occurs following the response, can the managerial
actions still be classified as effective? Richardson (1993) proposes the need to address crisis
management from an empirical and pedagogical perspective, citing the need to teach crisis
management through the development and use of case studies.
Pearson and Clair (1998) subscribe to the interdisciplinary approaches to crisis
management cited earlier in this review. They contribute to this topical discussion by: (1)
providing distinguishing definitions between organizational crisis and crisis management
effectiveness; and (2) developing a cohesive interdisciplinary framework to the examination of
the crisis management process. Pearson & Clair use literatures associated with psychological,
social-political, and technological-structural research to develop an integrative approach to crisis
management. It is from these perspectives that the authors posit the following definitions as a
distinction between management and effectiveness:
An organizational crisis is a low-probability, high-impact situation that is perceived by
critical stakeholders to threaten the viability of the organization and that is subjectively
experienced by these individuals as personally and socially threatening. Ambiguity of
cause, effect, and means of resolution of the organizational crisis will lead to
disillusionment or loss of psychic and shared meaning, as well as to the shattering of
commonly held beliefs and values and individuals’ basic assumptions. During the crisis,
decision making is pressured by perceived time constraints and colored by cognitive
Effective crisis management involves minimizing potential risk before a triggering
event. In response to a triggering event, effective crisis management involves
improvising and interacting by key stakeholders so that individual and collective sense
making, shared meaning, and roles are reconstructed. Following a triggering event,
effective crisis management entails individual and organizational readjustment of basic
assumptions, as well as behavioral and emotional responses aimed at recovery and
Pearson and Clair (1988) present a framework of the crisis-management process that
allows for elements of success and failure and thus reduce the need for organizations to create
cover-ups for imperfect decisions and actions. They state that it is only in detailing the “whole
picture” that true learning and effective responsiveness takes place.
The next section describes the context and methodology by which we will evaluate the
propositions raised from the review of the relevant research.
The work presented represents the first phase of a three-phased study that is organized as
Phase One – Review the literature pertaining to crisis leadership and crisis management.
Evaluate the literature relevancy to studies of the organization and management of US transit
agencies and management responsiveness to crisis events. Define and describe the structure
of the research sample and develop a survey instrument for garnering information from
Phase Two – Test/revise and disseminate the survey to the sample transit agencies. The
researchers will engage in face-to-face structured interviews as a follow-up of the survey
with selected respondents across sample states and with varying municipality sizes. The
results of the research will be summarized and submitted to the Urban Transit Institute.
Phase Three – The researchers will seek opportunities to use the research to train and develop
the crisis management skills and competencies of transit leaders under the auspices of the
Urban Transit Institute.
Data Description and Sample
The data for Phase 1 of the study were extracted from the Federal Transit Administration
(FTA) 2003 National Transit Database (NTD). The FTA collects and disseminates selected
financial and operating data on the state of mass transportation in the United States and Puerto
Rico. Transit agencies in Region 4 that reported data for the 2003 and operated transit bus
fleets were selected for this study. States in Region 4 include: Alabama, Florida, Georgia,
Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. These states represent
the southeastern portion of the United States. In Region 4, 86 transit agencies or transportation
authorities reported 2003 data to NTD. Of the total population, fifteen agencies were eliminated
because (1) it was first year of reporting and data was insufficient; or (2) the agency did not
operate transit busses. The sample size for the study includes 69 transit agencies.
The following variables were analyzed for each mass transit agency to gain an overall
understanding of the structure of the sample:
Area served in square miles Number of vehicles for maximum service
Service area population Average age of fleet
Bus fare revenue; passenger miles Service efficiency
Percentage of bus fare revenue Cost effectiveness
Operating expense Service effectiveness
The following descriptive data are presented about the sample.
Sq. Miles Pop Bus fare total fare Fare
Mean 374.8267 368443.1 3268175 4499489 0.771587
Standard Error 73.83355 45923.62 1005510 1545400 0.031647
Median 135 213253 709972 902728 0.897128
Mode 101 49381 121424 175170 1
Op Exp Pass Mile Vehicles Fleet Age Op/Mile
Mean 14641568 21222633 81.98667 5.938667 3.8752
Error 3844103 5514372 16.70052 0.320719 0.285624
Median 4052289 5624147 35 5.6 3.54
Mode 847910 1231507 19 4.1 3.8
Efficie1 Efficie2 C-Eff1 C-Eff2 S-Eff1 S-Eff2
Mean 3.8752 42.76067 4.298533 3.740267 1.249333 17.4172
Error 0.285624 2.882726 1.642393 0.297244 0.079105 1.008771
Median 3.54 48.92 0.81 3.25 1.2 17.35
Mode 3.8 51.78 0.69 2.42 0.42 4.52
The analysis of 74 data points pertaining to the reported financial and operational data
revealed the following attributes about the sample under investigation.
1. In comparison with the national transit data profile:
a. the average age of the national bus fleet is older than that of Region 4 (6.8yrs/5.9yrs)
b. average service efficiency (operating expense/vehicle revenue miler) for Region 4 was
greater than that observed at the national level (Region 4, $3.63; National, $ 7.10)
c. average cost effectiveness (operating expense/passenger trip) for Region 4 lagged the
national performance profile of Region 4 (Region 4, $3.63; National, $2.60)
d. the average service effectiveness (unlinked passenger trips/vehicle revenue mile) for
Region 4 was greater than that observed at the national level (Region 4, $1.00; National,
2. Observations by state were as follows: Florida (23), North Carolina (11), Georgia (11), South
Carolina (7), Alabama (6), Tennessee (6), Kentucky (3), and Mississippi (2)
As to agency size based on populations served, six agencies covered service populations
exceeding one million residents. Included among these six agencies are Atlanta and Miami,
which rank among the nations top twenty and encompass all modes of transit services. Ten
agencies served populations between 500,000 and 1 million residents, and forty served
populations between 100,000 and 499,000. Only ten transit agencies in the sample served
populations under 100,000 residents. While bus service in the sample represented the
predominate mode of transit services, key communities with diverse population groups tended to
drive the average revenue generated based on bus service alone down to 73 percent. Numerous
areas serving large senior populations had strong levels of service in the demand response mode.
Several transit agencies in Florida had designated services for senior citizens only, and the mode
of transit service delivery for these communities is primarily demand response. Atlanta, Miami,
and Tampa offered significant rail services. Other significant modes of transportation offered by
the transit agencies in the sample were vanpool and automated gateway.
The public transportation infrastructure of America’s communities has a significant
influence on national economic development and productivity. Professionals, students, senior
citizens, persons with disabilities, and the rank and file of the country’s work force have come to
expect reliable, safe, and affordable transit services. Recent disruptions in these services caused
by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the natural disasters from hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires, and
labor strikes that put most of New York City on foot during the height of the 2005 Christmas
season force us to examine how transit leaders prepare for crisis events.
The research discussed here indicates that crises can come on suddenly as the 9/11 attack
occurred. However, many of the crises are undergirded by neglected smoldering issues that
suddenly erupt into predictable surprises. We must begin to examine these concerns from an
interdisciplinary perspective, giving full consideration to the psychological, social,
organizational, and political matters that serve as root causes of some of the most spectacular
failures. Crisis research as a field of study is evolving rapidly toward an interdisciplinary model
of discovery. Such an approach requires careful study and analysis, and in the work we propose
to undertake during Phase Two will require face-to-face interactions with leaders who are
entrusted with managing organizations at the core of the American economy.
5. RESEARCH DISSEMINATION
Results from this study will be presented at a future Urban Transit Institute research
showcase. The principal investigators will disseminate their findings through the Newsletter of
the North Carolina Public Transit Association (NCPTA) and will make the research available to
NCPTA members in electronic format.
Alter, J. (2005). The other America: An enduring shame. Newsweek, September 19, 2005, 42-48.
Bazerman, M.H., & Watkins, M.E. (2004). Predictable surprises: The disasters you should have
seen coming, and how to prevent them. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Boin, A., & Hart, P. (2003). Public leadership in times of crisis: Mission impossible? Public
Administration Review, 63 (5), 544-555.
Cyert, R. & March, J. G. (1963). A Behavioral Theory of the Firm. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Fox, J. (2005). A meditation on risk: The lessons of the storm. Fortune, October 3, 2005, 50-62.
Hesselbein, F. (2002). Crisis management: A leadership imperative. Leader to Leader, 26 (Fall),
Horsley, J.S., & Barker, R.T. (2002). Toward a synthesis model for crisis communication in the
public sector. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 16 (4), 406-440.
Janis, I. L. (1989). Crucial decision: Leadership in policymaking and crisis management. New
York: The Free Press.
March, J. G. & Simon, H. A. (1958). Organizations. New York, NY: Wiley.
Mitroff, I.I., & Harrington, L.K. (1996). Think about the unthinkable. Across the Board, 33 (8),
Nomani, A.Q. (1996). Clinton proposes measures to combat terrorism. Wall Street Journal, B.4.
Pearson, C.M., & Clair, J.A. (1998). Reframing crisis management. Academy of Management
Review, 23 (1), 59-76.
Pearson, C.M., & Mitroff, I.I. (1993). From crisis prone to crisis prepared: A framework for
crisis management. Academy of Management Executive, 7 (1), 48-59.
Quarantelli, E. L. (1998). Major Criteria for Judging Disaster Planning and Managing Their
Applicability in Developing Societies. Newark, DE: Disaster Research Center, University
Richardson, B. (1993). Why we need to teach crisis management and to use case studies to do it.
Management Education & Development, 24 (2), 138-148.
Ugboro, I.O., & Obeng, K. (2005). Strategic planning effectiveness in public transit agencies.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Urban Transit Institute.
White House commission on aviation safety and security. (1997) Washington, DC: White
House. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/212fin~1.html
FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY SAMPLE
Source 2003 National Transit Database
ID Num Agency Name
4001 Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority
4002 Knoxville Area Transit
4003 Memphis Area Transit Authority
4004 Metropolitan Transit Authority
4005 Asheville Transit System
4006 Wilmington Transit Authority
4007 Capital Area Transit
4008 Charlotte Area Transit System
4009 Fayetteville Area System of Transit
4011 High Point Transit
4012 Winston-Salem Transit Authority - Trans-Aid of Forsyth County
4014 Coast Transit Authority
4015 City of Jackson Transit System
4017 Lexington Transit Authority
4018 Transit Authority of River City
4019 Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky
4021 Albany Transit System
4022 Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
4023 Augusta Richmond County Transit Department
4024 Metra Transit System
4025 Chatham Area Transit Authority
4026 Manatee County Area Transit
4027 Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
4028 Lee County Transit
4029 Broward County Mass Transit Division
4030 Gainesville Regional Transit System
4031 Lakeland Area Mass Transit District
4032 County of Volusia, dba: VOTRAN
4034 Miami-Dade Transit
4035 Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority
4036 City of Tallahassee
4037 Board of County Commissioners, Palm Beach County
4038 Escambia County Area Transit
4040 Jacksonville Transportation Authority
4041 Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority
4042 Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority
4043 Metro Transit
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY SAMPLE
Source 2003 National Transit Database
ID Num Agency Name
4044 Montgomery Area Transit System
4045 Tuscaloosa County Parking and Transit Authority
4046 Sarasota County Area Transit
4047 Athens Transit System
4051 Chapel Hill Transit
4053 Greenville Transit Authority
4054 Johnson City Transit System
4056 Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority
4057 Jackson Transit Authority
4058 City of Rome Transit Department
4063 Space Coast Area Transit
4071 City of Huntsville, Alabama - Public Transportation Division
4073 Lee-Russell Council of Governments
4074 Pasco County Public Transportation
4078 Cobb County Department of Transportation Authority
4085 Bay County Council On Aging Bay Coordinated Transportation
4087 Durham Area Transit Authority
4093 Greensboro Transit Authority
4097 Council on Aging of St. Lucie, Inc.
4100 Santee Wateree Regional Transportation Authority
4101 Spartanburg Transit System
4102 Waccamaw Regional Transportation Authority
4104 Indian River County Council on Aging, Inc.
4108 Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority
4110 Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority
4127 Polk County Transit Services Division - Polk County Board
4128 Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners
4130 Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority
4135 Georgia Regional Transportation Authority
4138 Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
4141 Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority
4142 City of Canton Transit
CRISIS MANAGEMENT QUESTIONNAIRE
Please review the following data and update as necessary:
Service Area Square Miles:
Service Area Population:
Annual Passenger Miles:
Vehicles Operated in Maximum Service:
Total Fare Revenue:
Number of Employees: _____________
Estimated Operating Budget: ______________
I. Crisis Overview Questions (Please provide descriptive responses):
1. Has a crisis-based disruption of service occurred within the jurisdiction during the last
2. How long did it take to restore the transit system to full operational status following the
crisis? Was the service restored in stages?
3. On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), how serious would you judge the crisis to have
been? Were lives lost or endangered? Were there physical or financial losses?
4. Looking back, have you/staff been able to identify any indicators that may have signaled
an impending crisis? If so, please explain what the indicators were and why they may
have been overlooked prior to the incident (e.g., lack of resources, lack of training, etc.).
5. What would you estimate as the recovery costs associated with the crisis? Please consider
financial costs and the costs associated with reputation for reliability, reputation as a
desired workplace, etc.
II. Crisis Management (CM) System (Please provide descriptive responses)
6. Do you have a CM system or organization in place? If so, please describe in general
terms (e.g., is there a CM leader? Is there a CM team?)
7. What individuals (by title or organization) were involved in designing the CM system?
8. Has the CM system been tested? How often? In general, what were the results of the test?
9. Does the transit system work with any other public or private agencies to conduct the CM
testing and/or implementation of the system? Please provide the names of other agencies
10. Does the transit system have individual safety roles (i.e., within the CM do specific
individuals have key roles? Does the transit system reciprocate safety roles for other
agencies identified in question 9?)
11. Please describe the training opportunities offered to persons who participate in the
transit’s CM system.
12. Have the necessary physical resources required by the CM system been secured (e.g.,
chemical protective gear, triage or other health care centers, etc.)? Please describe the
types of physical resources on hand.
13. Has the current CM system been developed to deal with the “worst case” scenario? If not,
why do you think this is so?
14. To what extents have new technologies played a role in the CM system? Please explain.
15. Is there a process in place to capture and retain information about “lessons learned” from
the experience gained during crisis events?
16. Using percentage estimates noted below, how would you characterize the readiness of
your unit in the event of a crisis situation?
< 25% ready__ 25% to 50% ready__ 50% to 75% ready__ 75% to 90% ready__ >90%__
II. Crisis Leadership (Please provide descriptive responses)
17. Who led the initiative to implement a CM system?
18. To what extent was the individual or individual involved in the planning and/or
implementation of the CM system?
19. Is the individual(s) still involved with the transit system? Is the person(s) involved in the
CM system? Please indicate current capacity and duties.
20. Who would you consider to be the current “champion” of the CM initiative? In what
manner does this individual demonstrate CM leadership?
21. Did the past or current champion of the CM initiative have any specific training in (1)
crisis management, (2) transit safety, or (3) leadership? Please explain.
22. How did the leader secure resources necessary to implement the CM system?
23. Was financing for the CM system secured as a one-time allotment or is there a continuing
24. To what extent did the CM leader or team encounter political or other resistance towards
the implementation of a CM system? Was there ever any evidence of a belief structure
that “it will never happen here”? Was there ever any conflict between demands or
expectations of diverse transit stakeholders?
25. How has the leader prepared his or her staff for the emotional and psychological
outcomes of a crisis event on employees and the community?
26. How would you describe the transit organization’s management style (e.g., flat team-
based leadership, strong hierarchy, highly political, etc.)?
27. On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), how would you describe the access CM leader(s)
have to mission critical information?
28. What lessons have you learned from the process of CM implementation?
29. What lessons have you learned from previous crisis events?
30. How have persons who previously resisted the CM system responded to the
Additional Notes from the Researchers:
Dr. Vereda King and Dr. Wanda Lester would like to meet with you personally, and we will be
visiting the following states during the weeks indicated below. If you are willing to meet with
either of us for a personal interview during the week that we will be visiting your locale, please
indicate the time and date below. We assure you that we will not require more than
approximately 45 minutes of your time.
State Week Please Indicate Availability
Tennessee March 21-24
Kentucky March 21-24
Mississippi March 21-24
North Carolina March 28-March 31
South Carolina March 28-March 31
Alabama March 28-March 31
Georgia April 4-April 7
Florida April 4-April 7
We are very grateful for your time and thoughtfulness in responding to this questionnaire. Below
please indicate your full name, title, and address so that we can send a token of our appreciation
for your prompt response.
North Carolina A&T State University is a land-grant doctoral/research
intensive institution and an AA/EEO employer.