Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Kirstin Dow


Minor coastal flooding, also known as nuisance flooding, is projected to be more frequent due to relative sea level rise. Nuisance flood events in Charleston have resulted in various social impacts caused by road closures, traffic disruptions, and economic losses. This thesis presents research conducted to understand the dimensions of individual transit vulnerability to nuisance flooding and how transit vulnerability will be affected by increased extents of nuisance flooding driven by rising sea levels and heavy rainfall. Mixed methods were used to conduct this research in Berkley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties, South Carolina. An electronic, in-person survey was administered at public bus stops to collect data on normal transit behavior, route information, transit behavior during a nuisance flood event, and demographic characteristics. Changes in transportation vulnerability under different scenarios of nuisance flooding was evaluated by using a geographic information systems (GIS) model that calculated travel time for respondent route information. The survey results revealed that three sources mediate individual vulnerability: an individual’s travel behavior and personal attributes, the vulnerability of the transit system, and the policies regarding late arrival and cancellations at the trip destination. Additionally, individual transit vulnerability varied depending on the type of transit disruption and transit network stressor. The GIS modeling results showed that the location and extent of road flooding play an important role in how transit vulnerability will vary under future scenarios of nuisance flooding.

The findings from this research highlight that adaptation strategies in the transportation sector to prepare for current and future levels of nuisance flooding will have to consider characteristics of transportation network users and their destinations in addition to vulnerability of the transportation network elements. Additionally, efforts to reduce individual transit vulnerability to nuisance flooding must consider how factors outside of the individual’s control, such as which roads flood, disruptions to transit service, and destination absence or late policies, play an important role in determining the potential consequences an individual might experience.


© 2016, Sumathee Selvaraj

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Geography Commons