Call Now Closed!

The research funded by this special call for proposals—in partnership with the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies—helped to inform key insights outlined in the 2020 Pandemic Playbook for Transportation Agencies.

Our thoughts continue to go out to people across the globe affected by COVID-19. In response to the ongoing challenges of community-wide response, especially in the transportation sector, the Natural Hazards Center has partnered with the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies to issue a special call for quick response research proposals focused on COVID-19 and the transportation sector.

Transportation services are vital to the functioning of local communities and our increasingly interconnected global systems. During this time of pandemic, transportation leaders are working to make transportation as safe as possible and available to all who need it, while cooperating with public health requirements regarding limiting access during peak outbreaks.

By working together, the hazards and disaster research community can help the transportation community to answer some key questions in the following thematic areas. Specifically, this special call for proposals is designed to spur research in the following key areas as related to COVID-19 and pandemic preparedness more generally:

1) Communications, the Pandemic, and Local Transportation Resources: What strategies are being implemented, and how effective are they? What are best practices in communicating and messaging by transportation organizations?

2) Transportation, Vulnerable Populations, and COVID-19: What are best practices in providing useful and safe transportation for various socially and economically vulnerable population groups that are traditionally heavily reliant on public transit such as low-income people and racial and ethnic minorities? What about newly vulnerable populations, such as seniors, transportation workers, bus drivers, and so forth? How can the needs of all be met while assuring health and safety among particularly medically fragile or economically marginalized people?

3) Transportation and Emergency Management Policy: How should transportation leaders and emergency managers work together to deliver community services? Including but also beyond ESF-1, what are innovative ways and best practices within and among communities and transportation services to accomplish community objectives during the pandemic? For example: transit agencies have launched food delivery services for vulnerable populations using their idled vehicles and drivers; state DOT facilities have been used a COVID-19 testing sites; Wi-Fi equipped vehicles have been used as local community hot spots.

This quick response research will help generate a Transportation Pandemic Playbook for transportation organizations. The work of funded researchers will have immediate operational and practical applications.

Three grants of $4,000 will be provided for funded projects. One project will be funded for each thematic area identified above.

Deadline Information

Proposals will be accepted via attachment, as described below, until July 30, 2020, at midnight MDT. All proposals will be evaluated simultaneously at the close of this window. Funding notifications will be sent to all applicants no later than August 15, 2020.

The research must be completed, and a draft report provided by September 21, 2020, subject to revisions recommended by reviewers no later than October 5, 2020. The final, revised report is due by October 31, 2020.

Given the time sensitive nature of this special call, proposals that entail “desk research” that involves, for example, review of media coverage, analysis of publicly available transportation data, review of websites, analysis of reports and other literature, etc. are all acceptable. Those researchers with original data that is relevant to this special call are also encouraged to apply.

Before submitting your proposal, please read the full program guidelines. Note that the Principal Investigators for grant applications must be U.S.-based researchers at academic institutions. In addition, all applicants are encouraged to complete the CONVERGE Training Modules and to review the CONVERGE Extreme Events Research Check Sheets prior to submission.

How Funding Will Be Issued

Funding will be issued in the form an Independent Consultant Agreement (ICA) or Non-Professional Services Agreement directly with WSP USA Inc (WSP). Funding will be transferred upon completion of the project and submission of the final report to the Natural Hazards Center. Advance and in-progress funding is not available.

This Special Call for Quick Response reports is sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences through the Transportation Research Board. It is administered by WSP.

How to Submit a Proposal

Those wishing to submit a proposal should submit a PDF, not to exceed 5 pages (excluding references), and including the following information:

  • Project Title:

  • Author(s), Affiliation(s), and Contact Information:

  • Abstract (not to exceed 500 words):

  • Brief Abstract for the Natural Hazards Center Website (not to exceed 100 words):

  • 3-5 Comma Separated Key Words:

  • Identify Your Proposal Area of Focus (e.g., (1) Communications, the Pandemic, and Local Transportation Resources; (2) Transportation, Vulnerable Populations, and COVID-19; (3) Transportation and Emergency Management Policy):

  • Research Proposal (research questions, literature review, research methods, data source, sampling design, etc.):

  • Budget Justification for up to $4,000 (note that this can include funds for data collection and/or data analysis and writing efforts):

  • References (not counted in the 5-page limit):

Proposals will be accepted until July 30, 2020, at midnight MDT. Proposals should be emailed as a single PDF attachment to Lori Peek at Proposals that do not adhere to these guidelines or that are missing required elements will not be considered for funding.


The audience for this research and the Transportation Pandemic Playbook is U.S. state transportation departments and public transportation organizations. Modes of transportation include highways, rail, busses, subways, airports, and ports. The aviation and cruise industries are not included. Examples of best practices and innovation from both domestic and international sources are encouraged. The focus of this research is practical information for decision-makers responding to COVID-19 now and other pandemics in the future.


Please contact Lori Peek at with any questions regarding this special call of the Quick Response program, program guidelines, and eligibility. Budget-related questions and questions regarding how and when the funding will be distributed should be directed to Deb Matherly


This Special Call for Quick Response Research Reports is based upon work supported by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NCHRP 19-116). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Transportation Research Board or the National Academy of Sciences.