Video Surveillance Uses by Rail Transit Agencies: A Synthesis of Transit Practice (Synthesis 90)

Video Surveillance Uses by Rail Transit Agencies: A Synthesis of Transit Practice (Synthesis 90)
Job No. XXXX
92+ pages; Perfect Bind with SPINE COPY = 14 pts
Pantone 648
500 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Video Surveillance Uses by Rail Transit Agencies
Video Surveillance Uses by
Rail Transit Agencies
the Federal
Transit Administration
A Synthesis of Transit Practice
Sponsored by
James Wilding
Independent Consultant
CHAIR: Adib K. Kanafani, Cahill Professor of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
VICE CHAIR: Michael R. Morris, Director of Transportation, North Central Texas Council of
Governments, Arlington
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Transportation Research Board
Jeff Hamiel
Minneapolis–St. Paul
Metropolitan Airports Commission
James Crites
Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport
Richard de Neufville
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kevin C. Dolliole
Unison Consulting
John K. Duval
Beverly Municipal Airport
Kitty Freidheim
Freidheim Consulting
Steve Grossman
Jacksonville Aviation Authority
Tom Jensen
National Safe Skies Alliance
Catherine M. Lang
Federal Aviation Administration
Gina Marie Lindsey
Los Angeles World Airports
Carolyn Motz
Hagerstown Regional Airport
Richard Tucker
Huntsville International Airport
Sabrina Johnson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Richard Marchi
Airports Council International—North America
Laura McKee
Air Transport Association of America
Henry Ogrodzinski
National Association of State Aviation Officials
Melissa Sabatine
American Association of Airport Executives
Robert E. Skinner, Jr.
Transportation Research Board
Christopher W. Jenks
Transportation Research Board
*Membership as of October 2009.
Abbreviations and acronyms used without definitions in TRB publications:
J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY
Allen D. Biehler, Secretary, Pennsylvania DOT, Harrisburg
Larry L. Brown, Sr., Executive Director, Mississippi DOT, Jackson
Deborah H. Butler, Executive Vice President, Planning, and CIO, Norfolk Southern Corporation,
Norfolk, VA
William A.V. Clark, Professor, Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles
David S. Ekern, Commissioner, Virginia DOT, Richmond
Nicholas J. Garber, Henry L. Kinnier Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of
Virginia, Charlottesville
Jeffrey W. Hamiel, Executive Director, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Minneapolis, MN
Edward A. (Ned) Helme, President, Center for Clean Air Policy, Washington, DC
Randell H. Iwasaki, Director, California DOT, Sacramento
Susan Martinovich, Director, Nevada DOT, Carson City
Debra L. Miller, Secretary, Kansas DOT, Topeka
Neil J. Pedersen, Administrator, Maryland State Highway Administration, Baltimore
Pete K. Rahn, Director, Missouri DOT, Jefferson City
Sandra Rosenbloom, Professor of Planning, University of Arizona, Tucson
Tracy L. Rosser, Vice President, Regional General Manager, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Mandeville, LA
Rosa Clausell Rountree, CEO–General Manager, Transroute International Canada Services, Inc.,
Pitt Meadows, BC
Steven T. Scalzo, Chief Operating Officer, Marine Resources Group, Seattle, WA
Henry G. (Gerry) Schwartz, Jr., Chairman (retired), Jacobs/Sverdrup Civil, Inc., St. Louis, MO
C. Michael Walton, Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering, University of Texas, Austin
Linda S. Watson, CEO, LYNX–Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Orlando
Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO, Maverick Transportation, Inc., Little Rock, AR
Thad Allen (Adm., U.S. Coast Guard), Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, DC
Peter H. Appel, Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S.DOT
J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S.DOT
Rebecca M. Brewster, President and COO, American Transportation Research Institute, Smyrna, GA
George Bugliarello, President Emeritus and University Professor, Polytechnic Institute of New York
University, Brooklyn; Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC
James E. Caponiti, Acting Deputy Administrator, Maritime Administration, U.S.DOT
Cynthia Douglass, Acting Deputy Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration, U.S.DOT
LeRoy Gishi, Chief, Division of Transportation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the
Interior, Washington, DC
Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads, Washington, DC
John C. Horsley, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation
Officials, Washington, DC
Rose A. McMurry, Acting Deputy Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S.DOT
Ronald Medford, Acting Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
Victor M. Mendez, Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, U.S.DOT
William W. Millar, President, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC
Peter M. Rogoff, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration, U.S.DOT
Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, U.S.DOT
Polly Trottenberg, Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, U.S.DOT
Robert L. Van Antwerp (Lt. Gen., U.S. Army), Chief of Engineers and Commanding General,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC
*Membership as of October 2009.
American Association of Airport Executives
American Association of State Highway Officials
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Airports Council International–North America
Airport Cooperative Research Program
Americans with Disabilities Act
American Public Transportation Association
American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
American Society for Testing and Materials
Air Transport Association
American Trucking Associations
Community Transportation Association of America
Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Synthesis Program
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Energy
Environmental Protection Agency
Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Highway Administration
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Federal Railroad Administration
Federal Transit Administration
Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991
Institute of Transportation Engineers
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Association of State Aviation Officials
National Cooperative Freight Research Program
National Cooperative Highway Research Program
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Transportation Safety Board
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
Society of Automotive Engineers
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act:
A Legacy for Users (2005)
Transit Cooperative Research Program
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998)
Transportation Research Board
Transportation Security Administration
United States Department of Transportation
Video Surveillance Uses by
Rail Transit Agencies
A Synthesis of Transit Practice
Interactive Elements, Inc.
New York, NY
S ubscriber C ategories
Public Transportation • Safety and Human Factors • Security and Emergencies
Research Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in Cooperation with
the Transit Development Corporation
The nation’s growth and the need to meet mobility, environmental, and
energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Current
systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand
service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to
serve these demands. Research is necessary to solve operating problems, to adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and
to introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by
which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions
to meet demands placed on it.
The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report
213—Research for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987
and based on a study sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local,
problem-solving research. TCRP, modeled after the longstanding and
successful National Cooperative Highway Research Program, undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs
of transit service providers. The scope of TCRP includes a variety of
transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and
administrative practices.
TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act
of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooperating
organizations: FTA, the National Academy of Sciences, acting through
the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a nonprofit educational and research
organization established by APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the
independent governing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and
Project Selection (TOPS) Committee.
Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodically
but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility of the TOPS Committee to formulate the research program by
identifying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the
TOPS Committee defines funding levels and expected products.
Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel, appointed
by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for proposals), select contractors, and provide technical guidance and counsel
throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research
problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by
TRB in managing cooperative research programs since 1962. As in
other TRB activities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without
Because research cannot have the desired impact if products fail to
reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminating TCRP results to the intended end users of the research: transit
agencies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of
research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting
material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, training aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results
are implemented by urban and rural transit industry practitioners.
The TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can cooperatively
address common operational problems. The TCRP results support and
complement other ongoing transit research and training programs.
Project J-7, Topic SA-24
ISSN 1073-4880
ISBN 978-0-309-14340-0
Library of Congress Control Number 2011925672
© 2011 Transportation Research Board
Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials
and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who
own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material
used herein.
Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FTA,
or Transit Development Corporation endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material
in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced
material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP.
The project that is the subject of this report was a part of the Transit Cooperative Research Program conducted by the Transportation
Research Board with the approval of the Governing Board of the
National Research Council. Such approval reflects the Governing
Board’s judgment that the project concerned is appropriate with respect
to both the purposes and resources of the National Research Council.
The members of the technical advisory panel selected to monitor this
project and to review this report were chosen for recognized scholarly
competence and with due consideration for the balance of disciplines
appropriate to the project. The opinions and conclusions expressed or
implied are those of the research agency that performed the research,
and while they have been accepted as appropriate by the technical panel,
they are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board, the
Transit Development Corporation, the National Research Council, or the
Federal Transit Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Each report is reviewed and accepted for publication by the technical panel according to procedures established and monitored by the
Transportation Research Board Executive Committee and the Governing Board of the National Research Council.
The Transportation Research Board of The National Academies, the
Transit Development Corporation, the National Research Council, and
the Federal Transit Administration (sponsor of the Transit Cooperative
Research Program) do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or
manufacturers’ names appear herein solely because they are considered
essential to the clarity and completeness of the project reporting.
Published reports of the
are available from:
Transportation Research Board
Business Office
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
and can be ordered through the Internet at:
Printed in the United States of America
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology
and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in
1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration
and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for
advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs
aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the
services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining
to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of
Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative,
to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the
Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate
the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and
advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences
and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the
scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the
Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively,
of the National Research Council.
The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. The
mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and
progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. The Board’s varied activities annually engage about 7,000 engineers, scientists, and
other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of
whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation
departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation.
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Atlanta, GA
Capital Area Transportation Authority, Lansing, MI
San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA
Metro Transit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Consultant, Sooke, BC, Canada
Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
Connecticut Transit, Hartford, CT
PBS&J, Tallahassee, FL
Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority
Kitsap Transit, Bremerton, WA
First Transit, Inc., Moscow, TN
Ottumwa Transit Authority, Ottumwa, IA
Federal Transit Administration
Federal Transit Administration
Transportation Research Board
Transportation Research Board
Cover figure: A Metro Valley Rail train traveling over the
Tempe Town Lake Bridge that spans the Tempe, Arizona,
Town Lake (Courtesy: Metro Valley Rail, Phoenix, AZ).
CHRISTOPHER W. JENKS, Director, Cooperative
Research Programs
CRAWFORD F. JENCKS, Deputy Director, Cooperative
Research Programs
GWEN CHISHOLM SMITH, Senior Program Officer
EILEEN P. DELANEY, Director of Publications
JO ALLEN GAUSE, Senior Program Officer
STEPHEN R. GODWIN, Director for Studies and
Special Programs
JON M. WILLIAMS, Program Director, IDEA and
Synthesis Studies
DONNA L. VLASAK, Senior Program Officer
DON TIPPMAN, Senior Editor
CHERYL KEITH, Senior Program Assistant
DEMISHA WILLIAMS, Senior Program Assistant
DEBBIE IRVIN, Program Associate
JOEDY W. CAMBRIDGE, Transportation Research Board
DWIGHT A. FERRELL, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit
Authority, Atlanta, GA
RUFUS FRANCIS, Sacramento Regional Transit District
FRANK MONDELLO, Metropolitan Transportation
Authority— New York City Transit
THOMAS STEPHEN O’CONNER, STI—Global Collaborative,
Ellicott City, MD
DEBORAH SAPPER, Center for Urban Transportation
Research, Tampa, FL
SHELDON C. SHAW, Utah Transit Authority, Midvale
DAVID WEBB, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit
ROY WEI SHUN CHEN, Federal Transit Authority (Liaison)
RICHARD GERHART, Federal Transit Authority (Liaison)
ALAN RAO, USDOT-RITA Volpe Center, Cambridge, MA
Transit administrators, engineers, and researchers often face problems for which information already exists, either in documented form or as undocumented experience and practice. This information may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a consequence,
full knowledge of what has been learned about a problem may not be brought to bear on its
solution. Costly research findings may go unused, valuable experience may be overlooked,
and due consideration may not be given to recommended practices for solving or alleviating the problem.
There is information on nearly every subject of concern to the transit industry. Much
of it derives from research or from the work of practitioners faced with problems in their
day-to-day work. To provide a systematic means for assembling and evaluating such useful
information and to make it available to the entire transit community, the Transit Cooperative Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee authorized the
Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project
J-7, “Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Problems,” searches out and synthesizes
useful knowledge from all available sources and prepares concise, documented reports on
specific topics. Reports from this endeavor constitute a TCRP report series, Synthesis of
Transit Practice.
This synthesis series reports on current knowledge and practice, in a compact format,
without the detailed directions usually found in handbooks or design manuals. Each report
in the series provides a compendium of the best knowledge available on those measures
found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems.
The purpose of this synthesis was to document the current use of electronic video surveillance technology solely by passenger rail agencies, considering the totality of its use and
including onboard railcars, as well as its right-of-way. It was accomplished by means of a
literature review, transit agency survey, and case studies. Results describe administrative
policies in place surrounding the monitoring of video images either in real time or for postevent analysis, policies surrounding archiving and storing images and employee access to
them, other public agencies (primarily police) and the general public, as well as funding
sources for installation of new or upgrading of existing video surveillance systems.
Forty-three completed surveys were received from 58 rail transit agencies, a response
ratio of 73%. Five case studies across a geographic range of locations (California, Arizona,
Texas, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania) offer additional details on a variety of modes, different security configurations (transit police or reliance on local agencies), and systems
upgrades to include technologies that other agencies are likely to be considering, including
lessons learned.
Dr. Dorothy Moses Schulz and Susan Gilbert, Interactive Elements, New York, N.Y.,
collected and synthesized the information and wrote the report, under the guidance of a
panel of experts in the subject area. The members of the topic panel are acknowledged on
the preceding page. This synthesis is an immediately useful document that records the
practices that were acceptable within the limitations of the knowledge available at the time
of its preparation. As progress in research and practice continues, new knowledge will be
added to that now at hand.
By Donna L. Vlasak
Senior Program Officer
Research Board
Project Background and Objectives, 7
Methodology and Scope, 8
Report Organization, 8
History of Electronic Video Surveillance in Transit, 10
Video Surveillance and Risk Management, 11
Expanding the Definition of Risk, 13
The London Underground’s Influence on Transit Surveillance Systems, 15
Use of Surveillance by Transit Systems Worldwide, 16
Use of Video Surveillance by Canadian Transit Systems, 19
Video Surveillance and Public Perceptions of Safety and Security, 21
Introduction, 24
Stations, Station Platforms, and Shelters, 25
Onboard Railcars, 27
Parking Facilities, 28
Storage Yards, Other Yards, and Administrative Areas, 30
Right-of-Way Surveillance, 31
Introduction, 34
Deciding Where to Install Video Surveillance, 34
Funding Video Surveillance Systems, 36
Perceived Effectiveness of Video Surveillance, 38
Monitoring Video Cameras—When and by Whom, 38
Video Surveillance System Features, 39
Video Analytics, 39
Archiving, Retaining and Accessing Surveillance Images, 41
Video Surveillance as a Forensic Tool, 41
Patron and Employee Awareness and Perceptions of Video Surveillance, 42
Introduction, 44
Case Study 1 Altamont Commuter Express, San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, California, 44
Case Study 2 Metro Transit, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 46
Case Study 3 Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, Texas, 49
Case Study 4 Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 51
Case Study 5 Valley Metro Rail, Phoenix, Arizona, 54
SUMMARY Previous TCRP reports, notably Electronic Surveillance Technologies on Transit Vehicles
(Maier and Malone 2001) and Transit Security Update (Nakanishi 2009), have studied
overall security and the use of electronic video surveillance technology in the transit environment. Improving Transit Security (Needle and Cobb 1997) and Guidelines for the Effective Use of Uniformed Transit Police and Security Personnel (Interactive Elements Inc.
1997) considered how transit agencies were using video surveillance as part of their overall
security strategies, primarily in conjunction with uniformed patrol by police or security
officers. Most of the examples and case studies in earlier reports combined discussions of
the use of electronic video surveillance cameras in bus and rail systems and few considered
nonsecurity uses of such technology.
This synthesis differs from the earlier ones in several ways. It is the first synthesis to
document the current use of electronic video surveillance technology solely by passenger
rail agencies and to consider the totality of its use, including onboard railcars and along the
right-of-way (ROW). The synthesis also describes current administrative policies on monitoring video images either in real time or for post-event analysis; policies on archiving and
storing images and access to them by employees, other public agencies (primarily police),
and the general public; and funding sources for installing new or upgrading existing video
surveillance systems.
Results of a survey emailed to passenger rail agencies throughout the United States are
used to document important issues, including the following:
• The percentage of stations, station platforms, or shelters where surveillance is
employed and how decisions are made on which locations to cover.
• The percentage of railcars in which onboard surveillance is employed and how decisions are made on which vehicles to cover.
• Whether video surveillance is employed along the ROW and, if so, where.
• The type of video surveillance systems in use and any special features they may
• Policies pertaining to monitoring, recording, and archiving images, including chain
of custody policies.
• Purposes other than for crime/vandalism prevention for which surveillance is
employed and its perceived effectiveness for those applications.
• Whether patrons or employees have been surveyed regarding their perceptions of
security and, if so, what those perceptions are.
• Funding sources for installing and/or upgrading electronic video surveillance
• Existing plans for installing video surveillance systems in new vehicles or stations.
Forty-three completed surveys were received from the 58 passenger rail agencies to
which questionnaires were sent, a response rate of 73%. Five agencies were selected as case
study sites because they reflected a variety of modes, had different security configurations
(transit police or reliance on local agencies), and were upgrading their systems to include
technologies that other agencies are likely to be considering. These agencies provided opportunities to share information in a lessons-learned format.
Agencies that did not employ surveillance technology were encouraged to complete the
survey by answering two brief questions: (1) whether the agency was considering installing a
surveillance system and, if so, where, or (2) whether the agency was not considering installing a surveillance system and, if so, why not. All the responding agencies employed video
surveillance in some capacity. Although the authors cannot speak for agencies that did not
respond, it is reasonable to say that all passenger rail transit agencies make at least some use
of electronic video surveillance on their property.
The following key findings could be determined from completed surveys and case studies:
• The overwhelming majority of passenger rail transit agencies make use of electronic
video surveillance somewhere on their property.
• Despite the focus on electronic video surveillance systems in the context of terrorism
since September 11, 2001, most passenger rail transit agencies have employed surveillance on their systems since the 1990s, and some as early as the 1970s.
• The largest single set of locations where electronic video surveillance cameras were
used was stations, station platforms, and shelters. Unsurprisingly, systems that came
into existence in the past 10 years are more likely to make greater use of video surveillance than older systems.
• More than half the respondents (28 agencies) employed video surveillance cameras in
their patron parking areas.
• The same number of agencies (28, though not all the same agencies) employed surveillance cameras onboard vehicles; fewer than half of these (11) indicated their use in
operator/cab areas.
• More than half the respondents relied on video surveillance in storage yards, administrative areas, or other nonpublic areas.
• Of the uses presented, ROW surveillance was used least frequently and was most likely
to be installed near stations.
• Light rail systems were more likely to employ onboard video surveillance than heavy
or commuter rail systems; many respondents indicated that at least 75% of their vehicles had cameras. This difference can be attributed to the age of these systems. Newer
systems were more likely to have had video surveillance cameras installed by the railcar manufacturer and were more likely to indicate that all new vehicles will have video
systems preinstalled.
• More than half the video surveillance systems are digital rather than analog, but most
are either combined or in transition. The most common special features were 24-hour
recording, existence of a secondary power source, and low light resolution. Recent
media attention to analytics (“smart” or “intelligent” video) is not yet reflected widely
in transit agencies’ existing technology.
• Almost one-half the agencies assign personnel to monitor video cameras on a 24-hour,
7-day-a-week basis; the most common staffing configuration is a combination of police/
security and rail operations personnel. Agencies that do not monitor their cameras
regularly or at all indicated that personnel costs were the major determining factor.
• Most agencies archive video images, although the retention periods differed substantially from a few days to a year or more. Similarly, access to images is controlled by
the agencies; the most common limitation is “designated individuals only,” which most
often includes police/security personnel, rail operations supervisors, and risk management personnel.
• The two most common applications of video surveillance were crime/vandalism
prevention and accident investigation; the least common application was employee
• Few agencies had surveyed patrons on whether the use of video surveillance added to
their perceptions of security; fewer still had measured employee perceptions or had
consulted employee groups in the decision to install surveillance systems.
• Agencies provided the percentage of funding for surveillance systems from various sources. The largest current funding source for surveillance systems is the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the next largest funding source was the
Federal Transit Administration grant program.
The major conclusions of the study are as follows:
• Reliable funding sources are necessary to assist agencies in making more effective
use of available grants to upgrade security systems. The process for obtaining funding for initial purchases or for upgrading existing video surveillance systems is complex and time-consuming. Many agencies rely primarily on DHS for all or most of
their funds. The funding process involves a number of agency offices—most often
police/security, safety, risk management, information technology, finance, and grant
application personnel—which results in a large amount of employee collaboration.
However, because funds must be applied for on a yearly basis, it is difficult to anticipate the success of and even more difficult to plan for multiyear projects. Presently,
DHS is seen as the largest single source of funding for security training and equipment purchases, and as a result it has a large influence on decisions made by transit
agencies regardless of size, location, or mode.
• Agencies are seeking forums to share ideas and best practices. Despite large expenditures for design and purchase of surveillance equipment, transit agencies are highly
dependent on vendor claims and on procedures that may require selection of the
lowest bidder. Agencies would benefit from a forum to share transit-specific requirements and experiences to balance against unsubstantiated claims; this role could be
filled by U.S.DOT or by one or more transit-specific professional associations.
• Policies on image access and retention appear to vary. Transit agencies follow a variety of procedures in these areas; some are guided by state laws pertaining to records
maintenance and access but there is little overall guidance in establishing access
and retention policies. The forum described previously could provide guidance and
uniformity in these areas.
• ROW surveillance is an emerging issue. Relatively few agencies provide any surveillance of their ROWs; those that do provide it primarily immediately adjacent
to stations. Though the reasons for this appear to be primarily cost-related, there
are also issues pertaining to ownership of the ROW and adjacent areas; how and by
whom surveillance equipment would be installed, monitored, and archived; and other
• Publicizing successful applications of video surveillance may result in diversifying
funding sources for system installation and upgrading. Because crime/vandalism
prevention remains the single largest use of video surveillance by transit systems,
agencies might work more closely with local media when malefactors are observed
and caught in the act of committing a crime or when video images play a role in
post-event investigation of a crime. Publicity given to these types of events may
assist agencies in obtaining local funding for installation and upgrading of video systems, resulting in less reliance on the competitive grant structure developed by DHS.
However, media attention may result in criticism by groups opposed to the expansion
of surveillance systems in public spaces.
Findings from this synthesis suggested a number of major areas for future study. Each
is summarized here and briefly expanded on at the end of chapter six.
• Measuring the value of surveillance systems in enhancing patrons’ perceptions of
security in transit stations, platforms, or shelters and onboard railcars.
• Measuring employee responses to surveillance systems.
• Developing policies on image access and retention, and on legal issues surrounding
public access to images.
• Establishing forums to share best practices and assess equipment performance.
• Leveraging internal and external stakeholder input.
• Conducting technical studies of surveillance technology.
• Conducting studies specifically on emerging issues in ROW surveillance and operator/
cab surveillance.
• Considering possibilities for partnering with other transit agencies or railroads.
• Considering possibilities for partnering with local government.
Each of these study areas could lead to additional areas that have yet to be thoroughly
explored. These and similar studies would assist transit agency managers in making better
use of their existing resources and would help them to find imaginative solutions for making
more efficient use of video surveillance technology.
Transit systems in North America, as elsewhere around the
world, are faced with law enforcement and crime prevention issues that many rarely thought about two decades ago.
In the 1980s and 1990s, transit systems, particularly those
in large cities, saw their major law enforcement problems
as containing growing numbers of homeless persons who
turned stations into encampments and often rode equipment
endlessly when they had nowhere else to go. Systems were
also concerned with graffiti, which symbolized to patrons
that transit agencies which were unable to keep their stations
and railcars clean were also unlikely to be able to keep the
patrons safe. As graffiti was literally wiped clean from those
stations and railcars, “scratchiti,” which involved etching
rather than spray painting onto surfaces, presented a newer
variation of an old problem.
Transit agencies addressed these issues locally. Larger
agencies turned to law enforcement solutions, increasing
patrols in stations, on vehicles, and in rail yards. They also
relied on emerging crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles, lighting and fencing, and
electronic video surveillance to monitor physical property.
Smaller systems relied on less labor-intensive or less costly
solutions; a few were able to deter rowdy youths and loiterers
by following simple steps such as re-arranging furnishings to
create fewer private, unobservable spaces within their waiting
areas or by playing classical music, which seemed to discourage noisy teenagers from staying any longer than necessary.
targeted transit systems around the world, individual transit providers are responsible for the safety and security of
patrons, employees, stations, and vehicles. In the event of rail
systems, this concern extends to their rights-of-way (ROWs),
which throughout this synthesis rely on the U.S.DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) definition of the pathway on which a train travels and that any piece of equipment
or person within 25 ft of the track is considered to be in the
ROW. Although transit agencies may receive assistance from
all levels of government, starting with their cities or counties and also including federal assistance primarily from
either the U.S.DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
or from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the
primary responsibility for securing each of these transit systems rests with the individual transit agencies. Commuter
rail agencies, which are regulated by the FRA rather than by
the FTA, are also eligible for a number of safety and security grants as well as for funds under the Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) Highway-Rail Crossing Program.
The job is huge. In 2000, mass transit systems provided
more than 9 billion passenger trips and employed more
than 350,000 people; by 2002, about 14 million people in
the United States relied on mass transit each workday. More
recently, in 2009, estimates were that public transit accounted
for more than 10.2 billion trips annually (Guerrero 2005, p.
5; Stelter April 5, 2010).
Solutions could be tailored to meet local needs because
transit agencies are local entities. In contrast to other countries but similar to most public services in the United States,
transit providers are numerous and operate independently of
one another. The number of systems throughout the country has grown within the past two decades, primarily owing
to city or regional governments deciding to wean residents
away from car-dependency and onto mass transit as part of
their attempts at traffic management and air pollution control. These efforts have resulted in development of a number
of new light rail transit systems (LRTs) throughout the country but especially in parts of the west and the south. Today,
more than 6,000 agencies are responsible for bus, rail, ferry,
and other transit modes (Guerrero 2002, p. 5).
The complexity of providing security for passenger rail
transit goes beyond the often-discussed need for transit
agencies to balance security with concerns about accessibility, convenience, and affordability. The decision to use public transit in most parts of the United States is discretionary;
only in highly urbanized areas such as New York; Philadelphia; Boston; Washington, DC; Chicago; San Francisco; and
Los Angeles are highway and street congestion sufficiently
dense and parking costs sufficiently high to discourage the
use of personal automobiles by most commuters and by
occasional patrons traveling to recreational or cultural activities. Although this is changing in many areas, where the
travel time from home to work has begun to impact the use
of automobiles, in most parts of the nation rail transit agencies continue to compete for riders with private automobiles.
At a time of heightened concerns over safety and security,
driven in large measure by international terrorists who have
A number of factors affect transit usage. Although the
cost of gasoline and concerns with pollution are factors some
consider, this concern competes with riders’ other perceptions. Many, for instance, are concerned with limited service
during non peak periods. The consistency with which transit
agencies in less densely populated areas offer some variation
of an emergency ride home program indicates their recognition of the concern by patrons that using mass transit rather
than traveling in their private vehicles limits their freedom if
their regular travel schedule is for some reason interrupted.
The conventional wisdom states that a controlled access
system in public transit even remotely similar to today’s
airport travel experience will discourage patronage. There
are also concerns about the costs of instituting such controls. The few experiments around the country that tested
airport-like passenger and baggage checks were just that—
tests—which generally reinforced the incompatibility of
such systems with the culture and infrastructure of public transit. A major finding of a lengthy study of passenger
screening concluded that: “Screening 100 percent of urban
mass transit passengers is not a realistic security option”
and that “[t]he human resources required, added security
costs, and delays would destroy urban mass transit” (Jenkins and Butterworth 2007, p. 5). Various combinations of
either selective or random baggage inspections and targeted
but brief interviews of patrons add uncertainty and may
deter those with evil intentions. Although they provide a
measure of risk reduction to an agency and its patrons, they
are not realistic long-range solutions to safeguarding open
systems with multiple access points. Technological and scientific advances may at some time in the future alter this
determination. But because transit systems need to develop
risk reduction and security solutions that are more immediately available, electronic video surveillance systems have
become the preferred technology.
No one likes to mention dollar values when lives may be
at stake. Amid all the discussions of safeguarding surface
transportation systems, one government survey of ten large
transit agencies noted that their top three safety and security funding priorities were communication systems, video
surveillance equipment, and additional training. Based on
estimates developed by eight of the ten, the cost of those
improved measures for just those eight systems totaled $711
million (Guerrero 2002, pp. 9–10). The total for all agencies
would be in the billions of dollars.
The logistics of instituting such controls are equally overwhelming. The sheer number of independent transit systems
makes any form of centralized control, even by the federal
government, unlikely. As aptly pointed out by a report prepared by White House staff, “surface transportation modes
differ significantly based on size, location, ownership,
capacity measures, and redundancy of operations,” leading to challenges in prioritizing assets and systems (Surface
Transportation Security Priority Assessment 2010, p. 15).
Not mentioned in the report but adding to the complexity are the widely varying methods of securing and policing
public transit. These methods are as different as the systems
themselves. Methods range from virtually no staff assigned
solely to security to large, full-service police departments.
Although many transit police agencies are concerned about
publicizing the sizes of their staffs, this information is often
available on their websites, in local news stories, or in testimony by chiefs before various local, state, and federal
oversight agencies. All figures in the synthesis for agency
staffing and for funds obtained from various outside sources
are from published materials or were provided to the authors
by the agencies.
Among the largest full-service transit police agencies
are New York–Connecticut’s Metropolitan Transportation
Authority (MTA), with more than 600 officers, and the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s (PANY&NJ)
police staff of more than 2,000 (most of which are not
assigned to passenger rail but with specialized department
resources available as needed). Transit police departments
of this size are rare. Amtrak, the national passenger rail
agency, has about 500 police officers, while the New Jersey
Transit (NJT) police department, responsible for rail and bus
transit throughout the state, has about 250. Others agencies,
including those that responded to this survey, have about 200
officers, although some, again including survey participants,
are considerably smaller, including agencies selected as case
study participants.
A number of agencies contract with local police or county
sheriffs’ offices to provide patrol services and sometimes also
investigations of past crimes. The amount of control the transit agency has over these officers differs depending on the
actual wording of their contracts with the police agencies or
with local custom. Generally in these arrangements the transit agency receives specialized services in addition to patrol,
such as emergency response to accidents or incidents, and use
of, for instance, evidence or bomb technicians as needed.
Other agencies employ no or very few persons with
police authority but either employ or contract for security
personnel who work solely for that transit agency. In some
jurisdictions these security officers may be armed, in others they do not carry firearms. Again depending on agency
needs or local licensing regulations, these security officers may have some level of police authority or they may
be authorized solely to act as “eyes and ears,” calling for
local police as needed. One case study agency, the Altamont
Commuter Express (ACE) in California, has no dedicated
police or security officers of its own. It relies on the local
police departments whose jurisdictions it travels through,
the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) on whose tracks it travels, and the Amtrak police, with which it shares several stations, for its law enforcement.
This synthesis is not a review of policing configurations
within the transit industry. Yet information assembled on
decision-making on where to install or how to make use
of electronic video surveillance equipment and technology
often was influenced by how an agency set up its police or
security department, even though decisions on surveillance
technology and its uses are rarely made by only one transit agency department. Generally a committee that involves
police/security, safety, risk management, rail operations,
information technology (IT), and grant-writing specialists
ensures that many internal stakeholders are invested in the
final decision. Internal staff may also be augmented by consultants, especially for the initial installation of an electronic
video surveillance system or when it is part of an extension
to the existing transit system.
Anticipating that different agencies might put their video
surveillance systems to different uses, the study located and
queried 58 U.S. heavy, commuter, and light rail passenger
transit agencies. Some agencies had been in existence for
many decades, some were relatively new, and some had not
yet entered revenue service. Many of the agencies are multimodal; the synthesis questionnaire focused on only the
rail modes under the systems’ control. Some of the newer
agencies have had video surveillance in their stations, parking lots, and onboard vehicles since their inception, whereas
older agencies are faced with the challenge of retrofitting
stations that were not designed with video in mind. Fortythree agencies completed the questionnaires, a response rate
of about 73%. Five agencies offered their programs as case
studies to document different aspects of the roles that video
surveillance can play in an overall security or risk management program. Because of the high response rate reflecting such a wide range of agencies, the synthesis provides
a unique perspective. Its focus is not solely on homeland
security concerns or on large, urban agencies with their own
police departments. Nor is it solely on crime control; the role
of video surveillance in risk management and in monitoring employee work sites is also considered, because terrorist threats cannot be separated from other concerns facing
transit agencies. In the area of crime control, any concerns
an agency may have over being a terrorist target will overlap
with concerns about criminal acts.
In addition, terrorism concerns are not the same for all
agencies. Not all facilities are equally attractive to terrorist groups. The attractiveness of a particular target may be
based on a facility’s financial value or its symbolic value,
and may include the effect its disruption or destruction will
have on the local economy, or on creating fear and disruption at the local, regional, national, or even international
level. International terrorists, for instance, are likely to want
to cause multiple deaths and injuries, and therefore are most
likely to strike where patrons will be the victims and where
maximum press coverage will be obtained. Domestic terrorists and activist groups are generally less eager to kill and
more interested in bringing publicity to their cause, which
may make the transit system itself the more attractive target.
For instance, causing trains to run late by mass trespassing
on the light rail tracks or creating a noisy disturbance in
front of or in a station will more likely suit the purposes
of a community action group than would destroying a station or derailing a train. These groups are unlikely to want
to cause numerous deaths or to put the transit system out
of operation for days or weeks or longer. However, international and domestic terrorist groups share the need to enter
onto the system to evaluate where they want to place any
deadly devices or to cause their nonlethal commotions. The
role of electronic video surveillance in these instances is to
alert those protecting the system of suspicious persons or
activities, whether terrorists or nonterrorist potential criminals (whose behavior is more likely to involve planning a
robbery, theft, or act of vandalism).
Stations are not the only areas of vulnerability for a transit system. Employee areas, equipment yards and storage
areas, electrical or traction power substations or junction
boxes, the overhead contact system, and the ROW itself are
targets for thieves, vandals, or terrorists. In such incidents,
particularly if terrorism is not suspected, vulnerability to
safety hazards play as important a role in decision-making
as do security issues.
In addition to concerns over stationary facilities, transit
agencies need to prevent injury and criminal activity on their
moving targets: the railcars. Agencies have also begun to
consider what role electronic video surveillance might play
in addressing the vulnerability of ROWs, where the difficulty of locating perpetrators of violence was illustrated by
the as-yet-unsolved derailment of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited
in Hyder, Arizona, on October 9, 1995.
This synthesis investigates the implementation and use of
electronic video surveillance by passenger rail transit agencies to protect patrons, employees, railcars, and infrastructure. It describes the current state of practice, including what
is being surveilled; whether systems are monitored regularly
and, if so, by whom; whether the images have been used
in criminal or civil prosecutions; and whether the surveillance systems have resulted in fewer claims of injury or loss.
Funding sources are also explored. The objectives can be
summarized as follows:
• To provide a brief history of the use of electronic video
surveillance technology by transit systems in the
United States and internationally.
• To describe the current use of surveillance technology
by passenger rail transit agencies, including heavy rail,
commuter rail, light rail, and monorail and funicu-
lar systems, by examining where the technology is
employed, including in stations, onboard vehicles, and
along ROWs.
• To examine agencies’ experiences on how successful
the technology is for crime/vandalism prevention; fare
collection/dispute mediation; other complaint resolution; accident investigation; employee monitoring, or
other uses.
• To summarize findings on a number of relevant legal
issues, including archiving of and employee access to
images/records, whether patrons are notified of the
presence of surveillance, and policies for public access
to images/records.
• To summarize funding sources for surveillance
professionals. It includes a variety of government reports
and studies undertaken on behalf of an array of agencies.
Technical materials published by surveillance system vendors were reviewed, as were media announcements from
a variety of transit agencies that are upgrading their video
surveillance systems. In recognition of the growing attention being paid to video analytics (often termed “smart” or
“intelligent” video), articles in this area were also reviewed.
The literature review is presented as an annotated bibliography following the conclusion, chapter six. It summarizes
the publications and documents that seemed most relevant
to synthesis readers and that were readily available online or
from the publishers.
The synthesis draws on the findings of earlier TCRP syntheses, particularly Synthesis 38 (Maier and Malone 2001)
and Synthesis 80 (Nakanishi 2009) as well as Improving
Transit Security (Needle and Cobb 1997) and Guidelines for
the Effective Use of Uniformed Transit Police and Security
Personnel (Interactive Elements Inc. 1997). However, the
study differs substantially from these earlier works because
it focuses solely on passenger rail transit agencies and it
describes uses of surveillance technologies beyond crime
and terrorism. Similar to the other studies, though, a major
focus of this synthesis is to provide transit agencies with a
current snapshot of how passenger rail systems use surveillance systems and to help agencies decide how and where to
employ this expanding technology.
A survey questionnaire was developed and sent to 58 agencies, including established rail systems and those operating
for only a few years or about to enter revenue service. The
systems, a number of which are multimodal, varied widely in
size and scope relating to numbers of passengers and numbers
of railcars and stations. (Appendixes A and B contain a copy
of the questionnaire and a list of the responding agencies.)
The following methods were employed to achieve the multiple aims of the synthesis:
• Reviewing articles in academic and popular journals and government and transit-specific studies and
reports. The most relevant can be found in the literature review.
• Investigating the introduction of video surveillance as
a law enforcement tool in transit systems and its current uses in such noncriminal enforcement areas as
claims adjustment, risk assessment and management,
employee safety, and integrity control.
• Developing, distributing, and analyzing the results of
a questionnaire survey sent to 58 U.S. passenger rail
transit agencies of varying sizes and modes.
• Conducting case studies.
Literature Review
The literature review of relevant materials includes articles
in academic journals and in popular magazines written for
law enforcement/security, safety, risk management, and IT
Questionnaire Survey
Questionnaires were sent primarily to police/security
and/or safety directors by means of a group email from
TRB. Subsequent emails were sent individually by the project’s authors. Throughout the questionnaire phase, names of
recipients were updated as information was received from
the transit systems to ensure a maximum level of participation. Eliminating duplications where questionnaires were
sent to an agency’s security manager as well as to the local
police who patrol the system resulted in a total population
of 58 individual agencies; responses were received from
43, resulting in a response rate of 73%. The percentage of
respondents is well in excess of the acceptable range and
reflects the largest collection of data solely from passenger
rail agencies on issues pertaining to the use of electronic
video surveillance.
Following the summary, chapter one introduces the project
and its objectives and explains its methodology, scope, and
organization. Chapter two provides a history of the use of
video surveillance in transit operations, its role in crime prevention and detection, and its role in risk management and
internal control systems. Chapters three and four are based
on the questionnaire responses; chapter three documents
how systems are employing video surveillance, and chapter
four discusses administrative considerations that make up
a coherent video surveillance policy, as well as describing
funding sources for purchasing and upgrading existing systems. Chapter five contains case studies of how individual
agencies are using their video surveillance systems. Finally,
chapter six provides conclusions based on the findings of
the case studies and questionnaire responses, and presents
items for further research. These chapters are followed by
references, an annotated bibliography, and appendixes that
include the survey questionnaire and a list of participating
transit agencies.
The impact of the September 11, 2001, attacks using airplanes
as weapons of destruction has had an incalculable impact
on discussions of transportation security. It is reflected in
virtually all post-9/11 literature; it is almost impossible to
find any discussion of surface transit security measures that
focuses on nonterrorist-related safety or security concerns.
This focus has intensified since the subsequent terrorist
activities involving transit systems in Madrid, Spain, on
March 11, 2004, in London, England, on July 7, 2005 (where
surveillance technology played a role in post-event investigation), in Mumbai (Bombay), India, on July 11, 2006, and
in Moscow, Russia, on March 29, 2010, while this study was
under way.
In addition, the May 1, 2010, attempted bombing in New
York City’s Times Square, where the transit system was not
the primary focus of the attack but would have been seriously
affected by it, led New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
to renew his call for an expanded surveillance network. At
the same time, images of someone who turned out not to be a
suspect but were widely circulated led to debate among security professionals about the value of video as a preventive or
a post-incident (forensic) investigatory tool.
The debate was tempered when, within weeks of the
Moscow bombing and the failed Times Square bombing,
India suffered yet another terrorist attack on its rail system.
In this incident, on May 28, 2010, a Mumbai-bound passenger train collided with a freight train after someone sabotaged tracks in the state of West Bengal, resulting in more
than 70 deaths and more than 100 injuries only 1 week after
the same suspects were believed to have blown up a bus carrying civilians and police officers. Although a Maoist group
was blamed for the crash, within days the Communist Party
of India said that it was not involved. India has not provided
information on who else might have been responsible and
has continued to view the Maoists as the most likely perpetrators (“India: Maoists Deny…” 2010).
Thus, while the current synthesis focuses on the uses
of video surveillance for broader purposes than terrorism
concerns, the literature review is skewed in that direction
owing to the single-issue focus of many of the recent studies.
But vulnerability measures taken to prevent terrorist attacks
from occurring also have applicability to general crime pre-
vention and to patron and employee safety. In the Transportation Research Record, Aaron Eder observed that “good
security systems can increase the difficulty of terrorist operations, increase the likelihood of terrorists being detected,
minimize injuries and loss of life, decrease panic, and calm
riders during times of panic.” This is equally true for less
dramatic events on transit systems (Eder 2001, p. 94).
A chronology of terrorist events against transit systems
compiled by the Norman Y. Mineta International Institute
for Surface Transportation Policy Studies Institute (MTI)
listed close to 4,000 events between January 1972 and
August 2004 (Designing and Operating Safe and Secure
Transit Systems 2005). Other studies, which are often based
on similar or overlapping databases, have reported similar
numbers. One study estimated that rail-related attacks, none
in the United States, averaged 30 per year between 1998 and
2003 (Peterman 2005). More recently, in a commentary following the Moscow bombings, former TSA administrator
Kip Hawley and his co-authors counted 11 ground transportation incidents versus 53 attacks on airline and airports during the same time period (Hawley et al. 2010).
Regardless of the actual numbers of incidents and how
these compare with those on other transportation modes,
terrorist activity on rail systems around the world has influenced the utilization of electronic video surveillance technology well beyond its original use primarily as a passenger
traffic control and risk management tool.
Despite this exhaustive focus on antiterrorism electronic
video surveillance, its uses have always been far broader.
The earliest uses of video surveillance were associated with
passenger traffic control and managing risk related to overcrowding, nonpayment, fire, and accidents and injuries. Subsequently, surveillance came to be viewed as part of crime
prevention strategies, especially as these began to concentrate on the intertwined roles of deterring crime while also
enhancing patron perception of safety. Initially, video monitoring was employed primarily to assist in fare compliance.
Cameras were placed in entry areas to allow for observation
of ticket vending machines (TVMs) and, particularly in the
London Underground (LU), to assist station personnel in
monitoring areas of dangerous crowding on platforms and
As with so many innovations in law enforcement, the initial uses of surveillance cameras are difficult to pinpoint.
Some observers trace their use to covert surveillance by
individual agents or private investigators taking photos of
suspects engaged in various incriminating behaviors. Without going so far as to link the use of surveillance in the transit environment to such covert activities, its use was reported
as early as the 1970s.
Policing Urban Mass Transit Systems, one of the first
federal reports that dealt specifically with policing mass
transit, observed in 1979 that several properties had or were
planning to install video surveillance equipment to monitor station activities. Seen in the broader context of using
technology to assist police, the move was compared to silent
alarms and two-way radios as adjuncts to or replacements
for patrol operations. Just as today, the “constant surveillance capabilities” were seen as having “the potential to deter
offenders, aid police in detecting crimes and apprehending
criminals, and provide patrons with a sense of security.” But
the researchers also noted that even where installed, surveillance systems were not “well integrated into police dayto-day operations,” in large part because the cameras were
monitored by transit operations personnel (1979, p. 15).
The findings of this synthesis confirm that many surveillance systems continue to be monitored by transit operations personnel but this was not perceived as a problem
by respondents. Of the 40 agencies that responded to the
question concerning who monitors their video systems, the
largest number (22) reported the task was performed by a
combination of police/security and rail operations personnel, 8 by rail operations personnel, and 10 by police/security
personnel. None of the agencies saw this as hampering law
enforcement activities; the combined roles of police/security and rail operations personnel seemed to be a successful
application of system integration that maximized the benefits of video surveillance monitoring. It permitted observation of and response to operating hazards at the same time as
preventing vandalism or criminal activity, all of which may
affect rail operations.
The 1979 report documented that law enforcement was
rarely the primary goal of the surveillance systems. For
instance, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
was described as having installed its video cameras primarily to monitor elevators for the disabled community and only
incidentally for security. Port Authority Transit (PATCO)
used its video in conjunction with a public address system
and a direct-line emergency telephone system primarily to
assist patrons having problems with the automatic fare col-
lection system and secondarily to deter and apprehend fare
evaders. Only the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH)
rail line connecting New York and New Jersey (operated
by the PANY&NJ) was at the time using surveillance solely
as part of its crime prevention strategies (Policing Urban
Mass Transit Systems 1979, p. 38). In addition, Philadelphia
experimented with surveillance in 1978 in conjunction with
patrols in the transit system by plainclothes officers assigned
to cut down on the growing graffiti problem (Hackney 1978).
The situation changed considerably over two decades.
Guidelines for the Effective Use of Uniformed Transit Police
and Security Personnel, a 1997 TCRP report by Interactive
Elements Inc. on transit policing and security deployment
tactics, found that a dozen rail agencies employed video surveillance in stations, parking lots, bus terminals, rail stations,
elevators, and onboard vehicles:BART, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), the Los Angeles
County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA),
Maryland’s Transit Administration (MTA-MD), Miami’s
Metro-Dade Transit (MetroRail), the Metropolitan Atlanta
Regional Transportation Authority (MARTA), the Long
Island Rail Road (LIRR), New York City Transit (NYCT),
NJT, Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), the
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA), and
the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
(WMATA). The technology was used primarily to document incidents in progress, to facilitate officer response by
having staff responsible for monitoring the video dispatch
officers to these incidents, and to assist in post-event investigation and prosecution of offenders by providing a record of
criminal activity and a positive identification of the person(s)
responsible for the act (pp. 156–157). This synthesis found
that transit agencies still use video surveillance primarily for
these purposes.
Although video surveillance technology is today most frequently discussed in the context of terrorism, a review of the
history of the uses of surveillance systems in transit agencies
points to its primary use as a risk management tool against
fare evasion and as a defense against fraudulent claims, particularly for individuals alleging injury during accidents.
Its use as a tool in crime prevention and detection, to allay
patron fears that transit systems were unsafe, was secondary.
Two recent TCRP studies pointed to the continuing
importance of risk management issues in the installation
of video surveillance systems. The current synthesis reinforced the continuation of this role. Although use of video
surveillance anywhere on a transit agency’s property assists
in risk mitigation, its use in nonpublic areas such as yards
and employee areas are traditional uses that continue to be
among the most common. Of the 43 responding agencies, 26
reported use of video surveillance in storage and other yards
and 20 in employee/administrative areas.
In a 2000 TRCP synthesis, Identifying and Reducing
Fraudulent Third Party Tort Claims Against Public Transit
Agencies: A Synthesis of Transit Practices, M. Patricia Maier
provided a number of examples of how transit agencies were
using surveillance video images to take action against fraudulent claims (2000, pp. 29–31). Fraudulent claims can mean
many things, including, commonly, verification of insurance
claims resulting from accidents or injuries (real or alleged)
from patrons, employees, or trespassers. Because the issue of
fraudulent claims by employees is more controversial than the
other categories and because such surveillance is more likely
to be covert rather than overt, the existing literature tends to
focus on discussions of external rather than on internal fraud.
External fraudulent claims may occur through a variety
of events. For instance, people who were at an incident may
claim to be injured when they were not, and people who
were not at an incident may also claim to have been injured.
In some cases, these so-called “ghost riders” have been
observed on video actually rushing to enter a disabled vehicle, more often a bus than a railcar, so that they may claim
an injury resulting from the accident. SEPTA conducted a
study in 1988 that showed that between two and three times
as many people were filing lawsuits as had been injured in
accidents, including those who were not even onboard the
vehicles. Maier (2000) described a SEPTA subway accident
in 1990 that killed four people and attracted claims from
almost 300 people who alleged to have been injured, a figure
that was far in excess of the number of passengers onboard
at the time.
Because video surveillance onboard vehicles has been
until recently more likely to be installed on buses than railcars, similar bus-related findings are quite common. Again
from SEPTA, Maier cited an instance when lawsuits were
received following a bus/car accident even though the bus
had carried no passengers at the time of the incident. Similarly, a sting operation that created a staged accident in New
Jersey resulted in video of 17 bystanders scrambling onto a
bus that had been hit by a car; all later claimed to have been
injured. Bus companies in urban areas of the state reported
that buses involved in accidents were often surrounded by
“runners” working for doctors and lawyers who would get
on the bus to distribute leaflets with the names and phone
numbers of their employers, encouraging passengers to
claim neck or back injuries so that they could file claims
against the carriers.
Another TCRP study, Electronic Surveillance Technology on Transit Vehicles, reported that almost half of responding agencies used surveillance recordings to disprove claims
made against their systems. Once again, SEPTA provided
a number of examples. The Philadelphia-based agency
reported that during its implementation of onboard surveillance in the mid-1990s as part of a larger program aimed at
targeting fraud, claims dropped more than 30%. Although
the report did not specify whether the cameras were used
only on buses, only on railcars, or on some combination of
the two, it noted that based on the entire program, SEPTA
estimated its claims-related savings at more than $2 million annually (Maier and Malone 2001, pp. 19–20). Also
involving SEPTA, Maier and Malone (2001, p. 25) reported
on a 1995 case in which a plaintiff who sued for injuries
allegedly sustained during a sudden stop added a claim of
emotional distress after learning that SEPTA had relied on
video surveillance to monitor the plaintiff’s actions. The
court sustained SEPTA’s defense that the surveillance was
not intrusive and violated no rights claimed by the plaintiff.
In addition to saving lives, there has been considerable
discussion along these lines as to the benefit of video surveillance at rail crossings to help to mitigate liability after crossing accidents, particularly in conjunction with tests to ensure
that flashing lights and gates were operable. A recent accident involving an Amtrak train and a car carrying five young
people (the 19-year-old driver and four others between the
ages of 14 and 21, all of whom were killed in the accident)
illustrates this. Within 24 hours of the crash, police released
a copy of a video image that showed the vehicle skirting the
railroad gate despite the gates and flashing lights operating.
The train, Amtrak 353, going from Detroit to Chicago and
carrying about 150 people, was traveling within speed limits
when it broadsided the vehicle on tracks owned by Norfolk
Southern (Runk 2009).
Grants available from the FHWA’s Highway-Rail Crossing Program are intended, in part, to address these safetyrelated issues, but responses to the synthesis questionnaire
showed that none of the responding agencies had received
funds from this source. The wording of the funding question
made it impossible to determine whether funds had been
applied for and not approved or whether this is an untapped
resource for passenger rail agencies.
The importance of surveillance as a risk and fare compliance tool persists. In 2005, a report prepared for Sound Transit (Seattle, Washington) in conjunction with its Regional
Transit Long-Range Plan recommended video surveillance
for monitoring TVMs and general fare collection protection
and did not mention it in any other capacity (Sound Transit
Long-Range Plan Update 2005, p. 20). Video cameras are
often placed in locations where it is possible to monitor fare
collection points. As surveillance technology has become
more common, it may also prove its value to transit in detecting vendor fraud. This occurred recently when a school system discovered, based on its video system covering areas
outside its main buildings, that a company being paid for
snow removal billed for more trucks than were sent to the
site (Stelter March 2, 2010).
In recent years, defining risk has often revolved around
discussions of the readiness to avoid and the capability to
respond to terrorist acts. But the same factors that make
public transit vulnerable to terrorism also make transit
agencies vulnerable to other types of crimes and to claims
of injury or loss of property. For example, unlike airports,
transit systems do not have either single or closely watched
points of egress and access. Transit vehicles travel in predictable paths at predictable times along ROWs that are
generally unguarded and easily accessible to the public.
Brian Jenkins, who has written extensively on transit terrorism, has observed that for those individuals who are
intent on killing in quantity and willing to kill arbitrarily,
transit provides the perfect target in part because it provides anonymity and an easy getaway (Jenkins 2001).
The same conditions exist for other, nonterrorist crimes
and also for traditional risk management concerns such
as claims of loss of property and injury by employees,
patrons, or trespassers.
In recent years rail agencies have recognized the intertwining needs of crime prevention—whether related to
terrorism or any criminal event—and safety. Safety and
security concerns are enumerated, analyzed, and ranked
using similar methodologies. Each analysis is similar to a
traditional risk assessment and is required as a condition of
receiving funds from DHS or approval under FTA’s New
Starts programs. These assessments, whether called threat
and vulnerability assessments, hazard analyses, or risk registry reviews, are intended to establish that an agency is
aware of and has provided satisfactory provisions for the
detection, deterrence, and response to safety hazards and
security vulnerabilities.
Thus, the recognition of a role for electronic video surveillance in both risk management and crime prevention did
not occur in a vacuum; it was part of a developing literature in the 1970s on theories of crime prevention and also
reflected growing concerns by transit managers that patrons
perceived transit systems as unsafe. Current discussions on
video surveillance as a potential terrorist detection tool and
its use in post-event investigation are a continuation of its
crime prevention applications. These new uses have been
made possible by technology that permits more accurate
identification of persons and objects than the earliest systems were capable of providing.
Influence of Crime Prevention Theories
The expansion of video surveillance from a risk management to a law enforcement tool was also influenced by the
emerging theories of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and situational crime prevention (SCP).
These theories altered the way transit agencies addressed
security as transit managers recognized that the public’s perception of security influenced their travel decisions.
CPTED grew out of the concept of “defensible space” formulated in the late 1960s by the architect and urban planner
Oscar Newman. Newman recognized that the design of the
physical environment could create opportunities for people
to come together and in doing so remove the opportunity
for criminals to act without the fear of being observed. In
this view, design features enhance or inhibit the possibility
of crime occurring in a specific place by producing either
positive or negative behaviors by those who enter the premises. At the same time, places that are designed in ways that
seem to inhibit crime (clean, well-lit, and offer few hiding
places for the ill-intentioned) also foster feelings of security.
Patrons sense that those responsible for the site are in control even if they do not actually observe uniformed transit
employees present.
The theory was expanded in the late 1970s by what have
come to be known as SCP theories. The first of these, commonly referred to as opportunity theory, states that offenders
will commit crimes wherever two factors converge: suitable targets and an absence of protection. Added to this, the
rational choice perspective stated that, with the exception of
rare crimes of passion, offenders make rational choices that
involve weighing the pros and cons of committing particular
crimes in particular areas (Cohen and Felson 1979; Cornish
and Clarke 1986). A nonviolent adaptation of these theories
is the “ghost riders,” who calculated that they could allege
phony injuries because no one was on the buses or railcars
to report their fraud. The disabled bus or railcar was a suitable target on which to commit fraud because there were no
guardians to note their fraudulent behavior.
SCP can be viewed as an action plan for combating crime
or fraud. Broadly speaking, its premise is that the physical environment can be managed to control both the fear of
crime and the likelihood of its actual occurrence. Whereas
CPTED focuses on physical design elements to minimize
vulnerabilities, SCP includes cleanliness, type and amount
of staffing, and more general target-hardening techniques.
A plan in barrier-free systems to resolve a problem of
patrons ignoring TVMs and failing to pay their fares illustrates how the theories overlap and also the role that video
surveillance continues to play in detecting fare evasion.
A solely CPTED-based solution to payment fraud would
involve moving the payment area to a location more easily
visible to general users or to agency security personnel, but
this may not be possible in an older system. An SCP-based
solution would add environmental deterrents to any built-in
environmental controls, such as the possibility of external
surveillance (general video monitoring) and plainclothes
officers to observe, arrest, and prosecute violators. In this
example, video monitoring alone may not correct the prob-
lem, but in all likelihood, particularly with appropriate signage, it will encourage some nonpayees to pay rather than
risk being caught on video. If combined with the ability
of the person monitoring the video to speak directly to the
nonpayees or to direct an officer to the scene, this system is
likely to deter all but the most persistent nonpayees.
police chief, Angus MacLean, said the cameras were purposely left visible to riders and to alert potential criminals
that they were being monitored. He admitted, though, that
the cameras served mostly a psychological purpose because
they were viewed only at the station manager’s kiosk, which
was often unattended (LaVigne 1996, p. 174).
CPTED is particularly valuable in the initial design of a
transit system because it makes use of natural surveillance
and access control, and territorial reinforcement to assist
agency personnel in fostering an environment that minimizes the opportunity for crime. In effect, it uses physical
arrangements to produce socially-acceptable behavior that
will reduce actual crime and also the fear of crime. But
because perfect CPTED solutions are rarely available, even
in new construction, SCP-based solutions, particularly electronic video surveillance, have become the most common
backup plans.
Probably unknown to patrons, was that the video screens
were not monitored by police officers, but by civilian attendants who used two-way portable radios to contact police
more quickly than in most of the older transit systems. This
deployment has not changed; today, most surveillance monitors are viewed by some combination of civilian rail operations personnel and by police/security officers. As indicated
previously, this system integration allows the video network
to maintain safe and efficient rail operations while also
observing possible vandalism or criminal behavior.
New Transit Systems Incorporate Design Improvements
The idea of designing new transit systems based on CPTED
features while also incorporating surveillance technology
was pioneered with the construction of WMATA, which
began operation in 1976. Much studied by transit professionals and academic researchers, WMATA was described as
“crime free” and labeled “one of the safest subway systems
in the world” based on its architectural design, which used
crime prevention principles, vigilant maintenance policies,
and stringent enforcement of rules (LaVigne 1996, p. 163).
Recognizing that the architects and planners had the
luxury of starting from scratch rather than having to
accommodate existing technology and design, much was
made of the system’s high ceilings and uniform 600-ft-long
platforms. In addition to their length, the platforms were
straight and relatively pillar-free, with few indentations or
places for those with ill intentions to hide. This also contributed to a feeling of spaciousness and standing room free
of having to crowd in on other patrons, all elements viewed
by crime prevention specialists as adding to passenger comfort and feelings of security.
Although deep below street level (the system has some of
the steepest escalators of all U.S. transit systems), platforms
were well lit and immaculately maintained. In addition to a
uniformed attendant on each mezzanine, every station was
designed with a minimum of eight surveillance cameras in
operation, placed at the ends of each platform and on ceilings
at entrances and exits. Elevators were also equipped with
surveillance cameras. Relying on the police theory of the
dual message of omnipresence, namely that a visible police
officer sends a message to the ill-intentioned that there is a
high probability of being caught in a criminal act and to the
well-intentioned that the law enforcement presence provides
security by deterring the ill-intentioned, WMATA’s first
Regardless of who was watching, WMATA received considerable publicity for instances when patrons were warned
by someone monitoring the surveillance system not to stand
too close to the platform edge or to pick up trash they had
dropped somewhere other than into the receptacles provided.
WMATA was not the only agency that used it video surveillance for basic order maintenance. In an article discussing the expanded use of surveillance, The New York Times
reported on an incident at the Hoboken, New Jersey, PATH
station where a couple was startled to hear a voice from the
police command center at about 2 a.m. reminding the male
to put out his cigarette and asking him and his female companion to take their feet off the bench (Halbfinger 1998).
Though these examples might seem amusing or even
petty, it is unlikely that patrons getting such messages
will consider participating in serious vandalism or criminal behavior. Unstated also is that it is likely to discourage
employees from shirking assigned duties or undertaking
other inappropriate behavior as long as cameras are known
to be in use.
As with WMATA, MARTA, established in 1972, also
was designed as a wholly new entity and also included electronic surveillance technology from its inception. In addition
to constant surveillance in the stations, MARTA included
other designed-in risk mitigation and crime prevention technological advances such as passenger intercoms, emergency
phones, and anti-passback fare gates. The emergency phone
system was more extensive than most rail systems and relied
on a variety of color-coded phones; white phones were designated for passenger assistance, blue phones were linked
to zone centers where personnel monitored video cameras,
and red phones were designed as fire phones (Guidelines for
Effective Use… 1997, p. 40).
As new systems were developed that included electronic
video surveillance, its use underwent a dramatic change
throughout the transit industry. By the 1990s, surveillance
had become a fairly regular feature in stations, employee
facilities, and parking lots. Its installation on railcars and
along ROWs was and continues to be far more limited.
In addition to WMATA and MARTA, other urban transit
systems made use of video surveillance in passenger stations
as early as the late 1970s and early 1980s; today almost all
do. One early adopter, Chicago’s Metra, monitored several
stations with a system that was originally intended to protect
TVMs, again illustrating the overlap of fraud detection with
crime prevention. Metra officials found the cameras acted
as a significant crime deterrent, which led to retrofitting
them with wide-angle lenses to include larger sections of the
stations. Both the St. Louis Bi-State Development Agency
(MetroLink) and Cleveland’s GCRTA reported successful
applications of video monitoring at key rail stations. The
GCRTA also used video to monitor revenue facilities. The
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA, Buffalo,
New York) used surveillance to view more than 90 of its
locations. Although at this time, most of the in-vehicle monitoring took place in buses rather than on railcars, the NFTA
reported some success with cameras to deter incidents on
some light rail vehicles (LRVs) (Gilbert 1995, p. 22).
To most North American transit managers, the transit system most closely associated with the introduction of video
surveillance is the London Underground (LU) in the United
Kingdom. One of the first systems to employ video surveillance, the LU’s vast network of cameras attracted worldwide
attention in the aftermath of the attacks on July 7, 2005, when
suicide bombers who claimed an association with al Qaeda set
off three bombs in LU trains and on one London bus, killing
52 people and wounding more than 700. Two weeks later, on
July 21, terrorists planted an additional three bombs on the LU
and on another London bus, but this time the devices failed
to detonate.
By the time of the second attempt, authorities had already
identified the first set of bombers based in part on a closedcircuit television (CCTV) image of the four men at the Luton
train station, about 50 miles north of London, at about 7:20
a.m. on the day of the attacks. The black-and-white photo
showed all four men carrying backpacks; additional evidence indicated they had traveled together to the King’s
Cross Station. The wide publicity given to the video image of
the four men by the London Metropolitan Police, in what the
Canadian Broadcasting Company on Aug. 11, 2005, called
“the largest crime scene in British history,” (“London police
investigation timeline,” 2005) has influenced at least part of
the current push to increase the use of video in U.S. transit systems. Yet this instance also reinforced that video may
serve more appropriately as a post-crime investigative tool
than as a crime deterrence or prevention mechanism. The
role of video for either prevention or post-crime investigation may be less relevant for terrorism than for traditional
crime, particularly where suicide bombers are unconcerned
with the consequences of their actions and may actually
hope for recognition as a way to further their cause.
At the time of the July 7 bombings, the approximately
275 LU stations were observed by more than 6,000 cameras; that number was expected to double by 2010. By the
end of 2005, the British Transport Police, which is responsible for rail policing in England, Scotland, and Wales,
comprised about 650 officers and was expected to hire
about 100 additional officers in 2006. These figures are
difficult to substantiate, but both the numbers of cameras
and of police officers have grown.
The original purpose of the LU’s video system was to
assist station personnel monitoring crowd control. It was
introduced on the Victoria Line in 1968 and spread with
the introduction of one-person train crews. There was at
that time relatively little interest in and little thought given
to observing individuals within the crowd (Butcher 1990).
By the 1980s, crime on the LU had become a political issue
just as it had in large cities in the United States and Canada.
Added to the concerns were fears of Irish Republican Army
bombings, which eventually included the deaths of three
people on the rail system, one at Victoria Station in 1991 and
two on the Docklands Light Railway in 1996.
Despite this prevailing fear of terrorism, the primary purpose of the LU surveillance video network was to continue
its original purpose, namely to alert staff to dangerous buildups of passengers at escalators and other strategic points, not
to catch criminals. Any thoughts of catching criminals were
limited to the view that if station staff observed a crime, they
would call police or use the public address system to intervene by vocally drawing attention to the crime.
Fennell Report on the King’s Cross Station Fire
The vast expansion of surveillance equipment in the LU
came not because of fears of terrorist attack or of crime, but
as a direct result of a massive fire at King’s Cross Station
in November 1987, the same station that was the scene of
the July 7 bombing. The fire started in one of the station’s
four escalators and spread throughout the ticket hall and the
station within minutes at the end of the evening rush hour,
resulting in 31 fatalities, including 1 employee. Because of
the chaotic conditions and the lack of an emergency evacuation plan, the number of injuries was never tallied. The fire
spread rapidly owing to the draft created by the train movements, the steep incline of the escalators, and the station
itself, including its design and the existence of old paint on
the walls that burned quickly.
The post-incident investigation report, commonly
referred to as the Fennell Report after its chair, Desmond
Fennell, led to changes in fire standards. The report also
highlighted the absence of interoperable communications, firefighters’ lack of knowledge of the station, the
station’s general lack of cleanliness and its low maintenance standards, and the lack of emergency access/egress
policies. All these are today considered standard features
of emergency management plans (Making Transportation
Tunnels Safe and Secure 2006, pp. 39–42). Finally, the
report noted that transit systems had introduced video surveillance that in addition to proving effective in reducing
crime, allowed better control of stations primarily to deal
with the specific dangers presented by crowding and fires
(Butcher 1990).
Video surveillance cameras in the LU continue to serve
the dual functions of operations management and crime prevention. One system is used primarily for its original purpose of managing and operating patron flow and ensuring,
for instance, that doors clear the platforms. The second system, which includes recording capabilities, is used primarily
for law enforcement purposes, with images fed to a central
location under police control (Loukaitou-Sideris et al. 2006,
p. 737).
The use of video surveillance throughout the United Kingdom, not only on transit but also in parking lots, town centers (downtowns or shopping districts), and entertainment
areas, particularly where there are taverns that attract young
patrons, has received considerably more attention than in the
United States. In the face of a number of academic studies that
drew few definitive conclusions, in 2007 the London Evening
Standard compared surveillance cameras in different parts of
London, including the transit system, and claimed that police
were “no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.” This was
despite expenditures of more than £200 million (about $294
million in 2010) (Davenport 2007).
In the face of recent criticism of the widespread reliance on surveillance throughout the country, in May 2010
the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government announced that curbs would be placed on the “tens
of thousands of closed-circuit television cameras in public
areas” owing to their “little impact on crime rates over the
years.” The new deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, noted
that it was “outrageous that decent, law-abiding citizens
get treated as if they have got something to hide” (Burns
May 20, 2010, p. A6). But within slightly more than a fortnight of the announcement, police claimed to have solved
a major crime after viewing images from security cameras
outside the home of a suspect who was charged with having killed a woman who was visible on the camera, one of a
number of women he is believed to have slain (Burns May
28, 2010, p. A4).
Despite the focus on recent acts of terrorism against rail networks, rail-directed terrorism has a long international history. Among the attacks on the Italian rail network was one
outside Bologna in 1974 that killed 12 people and injured 48;
another in 1980 at the Bologna station that killed 40 people
and injured almost 300; and one in 1986, also in the Bologna
area that killed 12 people and injured almost 200. In 1986,
Chile saw 78 explosive-related incidents on its rail system.
Two subway bombings occurred in Paris in 1995, including one in July on a commuter rail train entering the underground Saint-Michel station during rush hour that killed 7
people and injured 80 when the explosion led to a fireball
that measured over 3,000˚C at its epicenter. A second Paris
bombing occurred only 3 months later at the Orsay Museum
station. Attributed to the Armed Islamic Group, it resulted
in no deaths but more than two dozen injuries. In May 2010,
this event received renewed publicity when French police
arrested 14 men they suspected of plotting the escape from
prison of one of the bombers. In Argentina, in 2008, commuters set fire to a train that had delayed their morning
commute in what officials believed was sabotage by leftist
political activists. A similar incident involving commuters
had occurred at the main railway station a year earlier. Bus
bombings have been frequent throughout Israel, including in
its two major cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where suicide
bombers often targeted bus stations and shelters in addition
to the vehicles themselves, particularly after it became more
difficult for them to enter the buses unobserved.
Nerve Gas Becomes a New Terrorist Tactic
The Kasumigaseki subway station in Tokyo, Japan, was the
scene of a nerve gas attack carried out by the Aum Shinrikyo religious sect when members of the group released
five canisters of diluted sarin, an extremely toxic chemical,
disguised in lunch boxes and soft drinks on five separate
subway trains during the morning rush hour. Although only
12 people died, between 5,000 and 6,000 were exposed to
the sarin gas. This is an example of the vulnerability of transit systems even when they are not the primary target, as
the cult members released the gas on these particular trains
not with the aim of killing transit passengers, but of causing
deaths in police headquarters and other government buildings in the area immediately above the stations.
Unlike many countries in Europe where transit security is
a national issue, but like the United States and Canada where
planning tends to be localized, the Japanese government
provides guidance to transit operators on security issues that
are recommendations rather than regulations. In response to
the attack, both the Tokyo Metro and the Toei Subway added
patrols by both their own staffs and private security officers
and installed more than 2,000 video surveillance cameras.
Similar to U.S. crime prevention strategies, signs were also
posted in stations and on railcars, and announcements were
added reminding passengers to report suspicious persons
and objects. In addition, trash cans were removed from all
public areas, as is true in many U.S. transit systems today.
The King’s Cross fire and the Tokyo sarin attack highlight the importance of train control, which today is often
video-assisted. In King’s Cross, the fire was fueled by drafts
caused by the failure to halt train movements. In Tokyo, the
sarin was carried from station to station by moving trains
and doors continuing to open as the trains moved through
the stations.
FIGURE 1 This is an example of a reminder to passengers.
Deutsche Bahn posts signs on its buses and railcars
reminding patrons of its 24-hour hotline for reporting
vandalism; many portions of the system are also under video
surveillance. Photo courtesy of Dorothy M. Schulz.
Learning from One Another
A transit system following ideas and plans established by
others is common. Just as the Tokyo Metro turned to tactics
used by a number of U.S. systems, in mid-May 2010, Prague,
the capital of the Czech Republic, announced that the sensor and camera system it began planning for in the wake of
the Tokyo attacks would be operational within 2 weeks. The
city’s public transport company announced that in addition
to surveillance cameras, the system would include sensors
that can detect leakages and send information to the operations center and to police and would automatically activate
instructions to passengers to assist in evacuations (“Prague
deploys sensors…” 2010). This, too, follows actions taken in
the United States, where a number of systems have installed
sensors to fulfill a variety of roles.
Whether for passenger or risk management, crime prevention, or terrorism concerns, many countries have turned
to video surveillance in their transit systems. In New South
Wales, Australia, CityRail introduced cameras in the 1980s;
by 1991, cameras blanketed about 25 of its highest-risk stations, including more than 50 cameras at Redfern and almost
that many at North Sydney. The installation of the cameras
was highly publicized. Rail staff believed that the cameras
had reduced assaults in the stations as well as graffiti activity, but researchers found this difficult to confirm because the
installation of the cameras was accompanied by an increase
in security officers (Easteal and Wilson 1991, pp. 19–20).
In 1985, when Hong Kong extended its 6-year-old Mass
Transit Railway (MTR) by opening the 12-station Hong Kong
Island Line, surveillance played a major role in its protection
plans even though the new line was a change from singlelevel stations to some as many as seven levels deep. Here, too,
researchers have been reluctant to attribute the low crime
rate on the railway solely to the cameras. The transit system
is policed by a unit of the Royal Hong Kong Police Department. Response times to incidents observed on the monitors
have been described as “an almost miraculous 60 seconds—
maximum—on a station, or two and a half minutes if the
officer has to come by train from another station” (The Police
Journal 1985, pp. 265–266). As with WMATA and MARTA,
the MTR incorporates many features of CPTED; stations are
well-lit and built without blind spots or niches, and there are
no public toilets, luggage lockers, or food stalls. This assists
those who monitor the video cameras by minimizing the reasons anyone might be observed doing anything but waiting
for a train or exiting a train (see Figure 1).
Concerned about graffiti, public order, and more serious
crimes on its transit system in the mid-1990s, the Dutch Ministry of Transport added surveillance cameras to its buses
but relied on enhanced human security on its rail lines. Rail
officials tried to address the unemployment problem and the
need for extra security by recruiting unemployed men as
watchmen. Although they lacked police authority and did
not carry weapons or handcuffs, the men patrolled stations
to act as deterrents to miscreants. Surveillance observations
on the buses found that most problems involved aggressive
youths who frightened regular patrons, resulting in most
of the youths being referred to their schools for handling
(Smeets and Jacobs 1996, pp. 32–33).
The Tri-County Metropolitan Transit District (Tri-Met)
in Portland, Oregon, introduced a similar citizen-based program decades ago. A Rider Advocate group, consisting of a
supervisor and ten people recruited from a nonprofit neighborhood coalition, randomly rode buses that had a high rate
of gang-related incidents; they were paid and identified with
Tri-Met through their jackets and patches. The program,
which currently operates in partnership with Victory Outreach Community Services, was initially expanded as part of
the AmeriCorps program to include college-age community
residents who received stipends and tuition benefits in return
for their participation. All advocates are selected and work in
accordance with Tri-Met’s guidelines.
France also has a lengthy history of terrorist activity.
Between 1970 and 1995, terrorists carried out more than 20
attacks on French surface transportation systems (Fink 2003,
p. 1822). The Paris Transport Authority (Régie Autonome
des Transports Parisiens or RAPT), the agency that oversees
Métro, bus, and tramway service in and around Paris, tended
in the 1980s to view its communications and surveillance
networks as parts of its station management and fire preven-
tion programs rather than as crime or terrorist prevention
tools. The system’s fire prevention tactics in 1989 included
station telephones linked to RAPT headquarters and the fire
brigade, with surveillance cameras allowing staff to monitor
public areas as well as the system’s electrical and mechanical
plant (Simony and Loesche 1989). More recently, Camille
Fink (2003) described RAPT as having enhanced security
that now includes physical barriers, alarm systems, and a
surveillance network that relies on software to allow operators to bring up a particular image from any one of more than
4,000 cameras.
described the surveillance system as serving a number of purposes, including control of patron traffic patterns, passenger
safety, management of emergencies and crises, and remote
observation of unprotected areas. The central control room
included real-time monitoring of the surveillance images by
civilian personnel, who were able to make announcements to
patrons with a public address system. They were also able to
remotely configure the system’s functions to focus on particular areas or images. In addition to monitoring patron areas,
cameras were also installed to view yards and storage areas.
Watching Now or Watching Later
In a study of Météor (Métro Est-Ouest Rapide), a line
developed to provide service to Paris’ northern and southern
suburbs, Marina L. Myhre and Fabien Rosso (1996) compared it to WMATA as it, too, was planned to allay passengers’ fears of crime and disorder by designing in CPTED
elements. In contrast to most of the existing stations on the
13 Paris Métro lines, where stations had multiple entrance/
exits and long, winding corridors, and lacked surveillance
cameras, Météor was designed to include two surveillance
cameras at platform ends and onboard cameras linked to a
systemwide control center. In addition to surveillance cameras, Météor relies on a number of other security features
similar to U.S. systems. As with WMATA, uniformed and
plainclothes attendants are present in the stations and are
equipped with two-way radios to communicate with police
and, as MARTA, a variety of intercoms, call buttons, and
emergency alarms enable the command center to communicate with operators and passengers through the public address system (Loukaitou-Sideris et al. 2006, p. 732).
These features can be found on MARTA and on a number of
newer U.S. light rail systems but are more difficult to install
and maintain on older systems, where either the technical
capacity is lacking or where vandalism results in high malfunction rates.
Spain has also witnessed considerable terrorist activity,
primarily at the hands of the Basque independence organization, ETA, which was initially suspected of having
caused the March 11, 2004, attack on Renfe, the national
rail system, before it was determined to have been carried
out by al Qaeda operatives. Although municipal police protect Metro Madrid, Renfe has its own police force; the two
share responsibility for both crime prevention and response
to crimes. Since the attacks, stations have been retrofitted
with anti-intrusion and detection systems, and additional
surveillance cameras and private security officers are now
employed to monitor patron and employee areas (LoukaitouSideris et al. 2006, p. 740).
In 1998, responding primarily to patron reports of feelings
of insecurity and to damage to equipment caused by vandalism,
the Italian railway system developed a command and control
system to centrally manage railway operations that included a
surveillance system. Nino Ronetti and Carlo Dambra (2000)
Throughout this synthesis, viewing in real time is defined
as someone watching the monitors with the capability of
making public address announcements, dispatching agency
police or emergency personnel to the location, or contacting
local emergency responders. Response could be to crimes in
progress, patron calls for assistance, safety-related matters,
or rail operations activities that require immediate response.
Not all cameras are viewed in real time; those that are not
are used for retroactive or forensic investigation by police
officers. In these instances, the images are used to assist
in investigation of events that have already occurred but
that the transit agency or other authorities have determined
require follow-up activity. Examples could be crimes, safety
hazards, accidents, or derailments.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report
released in 2006 on passenger rail security found that five
countries that were not identified had centralized the process
for performing research and developing passenger rail security technologies as well as for maintaining a clearinghouse
on technology and best practices. The report noted that U.S.
rail agencies interviewed for the study expressed an interest in
a more active centralized research and development authority
(Hecker 2006, p. 15). Recently, alluding to this greater level
of centralization, Amtrak Vice President and Chief of Police
John O’Connor told members of the Senate Committee on
Commerce, Science, and Transportation that Amtrak had
become the first American rail police department to become
an associate member of RAILPOL, a European organization
of rail and transit security agencies that were cooperating to
share intelligence, coordinate activities, and improve counterterror capabilities (O’Connor 2010, p. 4).
Estimating the Number of Cameras
Although video surveillance has proliferated as a law
enforcement tool in the United States, its use is far more
common throughout Europe and Asia. A review of rail
security measures in 2007 found that almost all European
Union countries that had not previously installed surveillance equipment on their rail systems had done so in the
aftermath of terrorist activities, including, for instance, the
installation of 1,500 security cameras to guard the Belgian
rail service and the installation of 1,200 security cameras to
guard Swedish subway and commuter rail stations (Howarth
2007). One vendor put the number of cameras at 2.75 million
in China, 4.2 million in the United Kingdom, and 30 million
in the United States and estimated that the global market
was worth $13 billion in 2009 and could be worth $41 billion by 2014 (Ben-Zvi 2009). But vendor estimates might
be taken with a grain of salt, particularly because periodic
reports indicate that even in countries where law enforcement is more centralized than in the United States, the actual
number of surveillance cameras is difficult to calculate.
Rarely have transit studies played as pivotal a role in theories
of crime than in those pertaining to fear of crime. One of the
earliest and most important of such studies was conducted by
the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in 1976. Responding
to the concerns of the Metro Action Committee on Public
Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) and
the Metro Toronto Police Force, the TTC undertook a safety
audit, which documented that despite a low crime rate, the
subway system was perceived as unsafe by many women.
The study, Moving Forward: Making Transit Safer for
Women (1989), for the first time formally recognized the
much higher levels of fear expressed by women patrons of
public transit. The study stemmed from a safety audit that
established that women feared sexual assault on the Toronto
transit system despite its low crime rate. Women, who had
not previously been asked such questions, admitted that their
fears caused them to limit their use of transit altogether or
during nighttime hours. To address these fears, features
were added to the transit system that are today taken for
granted, including installing passenger assistance alarms
in transit vehicles, installing emergency telephones on platforms, closing off dead-end passageways, creating visibly
marked off-hours waiting areas, and creating large and easily understood signage.
In responding to Moving Forward, the TTC turned to
video surveillance as a crime prevention and fear alleviation
tool. This tactic has become common throughout Canada,
where passenger rail systems rely heavily on video surveillance. Many of these agencies provide considerable detail
about their safety and security strategies on their websites,
including more open discussion of the presence of surveillance than is found on U.S. transit agency websites.
Just as in the United States, residents of major Canadian
cities and their suburbs depend on rail transit for travel to
and from their central business districts. According to the
Canadian Urban Transport Association, in 2007 public transit employed 45,000 people and had a 1.7 billion total rid-
ership (Issue Paper 23, June 2007). The same report noted
the prevalence of video surveillance technology both inside
stations and onboard vehicles and also noted that in response
to citizens’ desire for greater levels of protection, a number
of transit systems, including Greater Vancouver, Toronto,
and Ottawa, have increased the legal powers of their security
personnel, including broadening powers of arrest and authorizing officers to enforce the Criminal Code as well as laws
relating to trespassing, liquor licensing, and controlled substances violations (Issue Paper 23, June 2007). The policing
configurations of Canadian transit agencies are not unlike the
United States in that officers range from those who have full
police authority to those who are basically security officers.
In the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Canadian
federal government assumed a larger role in transit security
both financially and through regulations that require agencies
to conduct risk assessments, outline mitigation strategies, and
develop systemwide security plans. For instance, the TransitSecure Program set aside $80 million CAD (Canadian dollars) to support security measures by urban transit (bus) and
passenger rail operators. The first round of funding, which
was announced at the end of 2006, included up to CAD$37
million to help transit systems in Canada’s six major metropolitan areas (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto,
Ottawa-Gatineau, and Montreal) conduct risk assessments;
develop security plans; create employee training and public
awareness programs; and upgrade security equipment such as
surveillance equipment, access control technology, and lighting. The second round of Transit-Secure funding, announced
in 2007, included up to CAD$2 million to support risk assessments and comprehensive security planning by smaller communities that rely on bus rather than rail service.
Transport Canada, Public Safety Canada, and local stakeholders have sponsored a number of emergency preparedness activities, particularly in the interjurisdictional areas
that include Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. These activities, which include tabletop, command post, and full-scale
live exercises and drills, are sponsored to help government
officials, transit system personnel, first responders, and law
enforcement agencies prepare for their emergency roles.
Toronto Transit Commission
The TTC, the largest transit system in Canada, carried 445
million passengers on 2,500 vehicles in 2006. Based on a
review of antiterrorism security weaknesses that identified a
number of potential mitigation measures in 2006, TTC was
awarded CAD$1.5 million in Transit-Secure funding to support a terrorism-specific risk and vulnerability assessment,
enhance property security and access controls, and install
a surface vehicle broadcast messaging system. Future initiatives could include enhanced visual monitoring technology for subway stations and high-risk surface vehicle routes
(Issue Paper 23, June 2007).
In addition, in October 2007, the TTC announced plans to
install nearly 12,000 surveillance cameras on its entire fleet
of buses, streetcars, and on all new subway cars and also at
all rail and bus stations. The system was planned for realtime viewing as well as having the capability to download
video to a central archive for investigations of past crimes.
Streetcars were expected to be outfitted with between four
and six cameras each and plans called for the nearly 250 new
subway cars to each have one camera. No decision had been
made on whether the existing 800 subway cars would be
retrofitted (Edwards 2007). The new cars, manufactured by
Bombardier Transportation, also include a two-way intercom system for drivers and passengers to communicate, and
the cars can be delivered with integrated communications
for passengers for alerts such as which doors will open and
which stations are being approached.
in French or in English, provide the same level of detail on
safety and security arrangements as those of the other Canadian transit agencies.
Because the Metro’s rubber-tire subway cars are among
the oldest currently in use, dating back to the mid-1960s, and
are not air-conditioned, it is likely that no video surveillance
system exists on the cars, which also do not permit passengers to move between cars once onboard. Even the newer cars
date from 1976, before rail vehicle manufacturers delivered
equipment with pre-installed surveillance systems. Requests
for proposals for bids in 2008, though, specified that vehicles
include larger windows, additional lighting, high-definition
televisions, a new public address system, and surveillance
cameras. More recently, in October 2010, the STM signed
a contract for 468 rail vehicles meeting its specifications
(“STM contract signing…” Oct. 22, 2010).
Ottawa O-Train
Ottawa’s LRT service is Canada’s newest and smallest rail
transit system. Opened in 2001, the O-Train travels for about
5 miles, carrying about 10,000 passengers daily. Unlike
many LRT systems, its alignment is entirely isolated from
road traffic but the lightly-used Ottawa Central provides
infrequent freight traffic on pre-existing Canadian Pacific
Railway track after the O-Train’s operating hours.
Operated by OC Transpo under its official name of Capital
Railway, the system is considered light rail in part because of
extension plans into downtown Ottawa and in part because
its railcars are smaller and lighter than most in North America and do not meet Association of American Railroads’
standards for crash-worthiness for mainline train cars. The
railcars use one operator and no additional crew. The three
diesel-powered Talent railcars, built by Bombardier as part
of a larger order for Deutsche Bahn’s regional network, run
on 15-minute headways. Five stations are monitored by surveillance cameras and their images are observed by communications officers. These officers also answer emergency
calls and dispatch the Transit Special Constables, who are
supported by members of the Ottawa Police Service for
problems they are not authorized or trained to handle.
Montreal Metro
Montreal is served by two transit agencies. The Montreal
Metro is a 71-km (about 44 miles) subway system operated
by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) that currently
comprises 67 stations on four separate lines. The Agence
métropolitaine de transport operates the 214-km (about 133
miles) rail agency that provides service on five commuter
rail lines in addition to operating a bus network. The Metro
is Canada’s longest subway system and the busiest in terms
of daily passengers (987,000 on an average weekday in 2008,
when more than 290 million riders used the system). Neither
the subway’s nor the commuter rail line’s websites, whether
In late 2007, Metro announced that it would use CAD$3.6
million of the CAD$5.7 million that the Montreal region
had obtained from the Transit-Secure program to add 240
video cameras to the 1,200 already in place. An additional
CAD$75,000 would be used to improve the reliability of
video surveillance equipment at Montreal’s downtown Central Station. Cameras would be located in areas identified
in a study based specifically on terrorism-related security
issues (“Cash to Secure…” 2007).
Alberta Transit Systems
The province of Alberta is home to two of Canada’s passenger rail systems, the Calgary Transit Authority and the
Edmonton Transit System. Both provide considerable detail
on their websites about their service and their safety and
security policies and advise readers that the collection of
recorded camera images is authorized under Section 33c of
the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Edmonton’s light rail system is a 21 km (about 13 miles),
15-station system operating 74 LRVs that carry more than
74,000 passengers on an average day. Average speed is 70
km per hour (kp/h) [about 44 miles per hour (mph)], and
headways are 5 minutes during peak hours. All stations and
major transit centers feature surveillance cameras that are
linked into an emergency telephone network that is activated as soon as the help phone is engaged and also allows
an officer in the control room to speak with the patron over
the phone. Safety and Security Division personnel are also
able to monitor incidents through a computer-aided dispatch system in patrol vehicles. This system allows officers
to receive information from control center staff viewing
the surveillance monitors. Transit officers are designated
as special constables, which authorizes them to enforce
transit laws and to carry batons and pepper spray. Funds
for ongoing enhancements to lighting, to improve CPTED
design features in and around stations, and to improve the
existing surveillance system were provided by the TransitSecure Program.
All Calgary Transit (locally referred to as CTrain) stations and platforms are under 24-hour surveillance by more
than 350-cameras located throughout the system. Stations
and platforms are also equipped with emergency telephones
(called HELP phones in Calgary). Video monitors are
viewed by staff members who have the ability to contact the
system’s uniformed peace officers. In 2008, following a murder of a woman who was stalked aboard a train and followed
home, Calgary Transit doubled its staff of peace officers to
65. Although the officers do not have full police powers,
they are authorized to enforce a number of municipal bylaws
(Stelter 2009). Similar to a number of states in the United
States, the major difference between peace officers and
police officers is that peace officers cannot conduct investigations but may take actions for a limited number of situations that occur in their presence; they also receive fewer
hours of training. Also in 2008, with funds provided through
the Transit-Secure Program, Calgary installed a dozen pantilt-zoom cameras at selected locations to provide improved
surveillance capabilities. A parking fee was also instituted to
generate funds dedicated to enhancing the safety, security,
and cleanliness of the transit system.
British Columbia TransLink
The Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink) is a complex transit system that has come to rely
heavily on video surveillance, particularly since the Winter Olympics in 2010. Because the system spreads out from
the city itself, TransLink covers the largest geographic area
of any North American transit system. It comprises more
than 1,000 square miles (1,800 square kilometers), travels
through 17 municipalities, and in 2007 served more than 165
million passengers. SkyTrain, a subsidiary of SkyLink, is a
fully automated, 49.5 km (about 31 miles) light rail system
with 33 stations that links downtown Vancouver with a number of its larger residential suburbs. Built in 1986 to serve the
World’s Fair held in Vancouver, it is the longest automated
light rail system in the world. Like a number of the newer
light rail systems, SkyTrain included a surveillance system
when it began revenue operations. When the system was
expanded in 2000, the IT network was upgraded to expand
beyond the 850 analog cameras that recorded around the
clock, with feeds sent from each station to a central control
center where images were recorded and stored.
Similar to the synthesis case study involving Metro Transit in Minneapolis, Minnesota (see chapter five), experiences
in British Columbia reinforce that even a modern surveillance system requires frequent upgrading. By 2005, the network was not considered large enough to handle the amount
of video that was being generated (Anderson 2008). Almost
CAD$10 million of Transit-Secure funds distributed in 2006
went toward the most recent upgrading of the system, which
also included funds for enhanced lighting and helped to pay
for retrofitting that was in progress when the funds were distributed. With the system introduced in 2008, cameras are
able to transmit three video feeds per station—the inbound
and outbound platforms and the lobby. The project is labor
intensive; 6 employees administer it, including managing
who may access the system, and 18 employees were trained
in system maintenance.
Just as it has consistently upgraded its surveillance camera network, TransLink has seen a need to upgrade its human
security network. Although SkyTrain initially was patrolled
by Transit Special Constables, in December 2005 TransLink
created the South Coast BC Transportation Authority Police
Service to allow officers to pursue a suspect outside the transit agency’s property and to coordinate their activities more
fully with local police.
The TTC/METRAC study was in the forefront of research
that determined that the public’s perception of whether transit facilities are safe can affect decisions that will impact
ridership. This is particularly true in parts of the country
where the decision to use public transportation or to drive
is a discretionary one. Many riders of the nation’s largest
transit systems may have few other commuting options as a
result of traffic congestion and the inadequate parking facilities in the central business districts, but in other parts of the
country the decision to use the transit system is based on a
number of factors. Research has shown that safety and security play a large role in the decision, particularly for women.
Today, the TTC/METRAC finding that women are
more fearful of crime than men is commonly accepted by
researchers and police executives. Related findings by Margaret T. Gordon and Stephanie Riger (1989) were explained
by criminological theories discussed by Dorothy M. Schulz
and Susan Gilbert (1996) at the FHWA’s second national
conference on women’s travel issues and more recently by
Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Amanda Bornstein, Camille
Fink, Linda Samuels, and Shanin Gerami (2009). These
theories of crime and fear have influenced decisions by
transit systems on a number of security measures, including
enhanced use of video surveillance systems.
Opportunity theory, advanced in the late 1970s by
Lawrence E. Cohen and Marvin Felson (1979), stated that
offenders will commit crimes where there are suitable targets and an absence of protection. This theory played a large
role in the expansion of CPTED as a way to use the physical facility itself to create a more protected environment.
Derek B. Cornish and Ronald V. Clarke (1986) extended
the theory by introducing the concept of “rational choice,”
which stated that offenders are rational, self-serving individuals who will weigh the benefits and risks of committing a crime in a particular place at a particular time. The
benefits of a particular location are the presence of a victim
and the ability to commit a criminal act and escape unseen.
The risks include being observed or being unable to escape.
Many patrons view transit as providing a number of the benefits criminals consider. Specifically, the patrons view themselves as available victims and they view the transit system
itself as providing hiding places. Because they may not see
a police presence, they estimate the possibility of the capture of their victimizer as low. Unfortunately, criminals may
see the same cost-benefit analysis and act accordingly. But
electronic video surveillance systems change the equation.
They increase the risk of being observed; an offender might
be observed and actually caught before fleeing, or his or her
image may be caught to use for retroactive investigation and
subsequent arrest.
Women and the Fear of Victimization
Women’s higher fears of victimization are based on their
generally facing higher levels of stranger violence (Young
1992), and according to Richard B. Felson (1996) their fears
are generally correct. Because they are often smaller than
their aggressor might be, they are more likely to be the targets
of random violence in public spaces. Women interviewed by
Loukaitus-Sideris and colleagues as part of an MTI study on
easing women’s fears of transportation environments (2009)
found that women believed that as a group they had distinct
safety/security needs and that despite improvements in transit security, they were often fearful of transit settings. Echoing the earlier TTC/METRAC findings, these fears often led
women to adjust their behavior and travel patterns and/or
avoid certain travel modes and settings at certain times. For
transit agencies, this translates into lost revenue. But despite
this finding, the MTI researchers also found that only a small
number of U.S. transit agencies had programs that targeted
the safety and security needs of women riders. Although
most systems agreed that women had distinct safety and
security needs, only a third of those surveyed believed that
agencies should put specific programs into place to address
these needs.
Jerome A. Needle and Renée M. Cobb in a TCRP
study entitled Improving Transit Security (1997) found
that fear and anxiety about personal security were important detractors from using public transit for all potential
patrons, not only women. Although gender has emerged
as the most significant factor related to fear of crime and
victimization in transit environments, other studies, not all
conducted in the United States, have found that fears are
also more pronounced among the elderly, certain ethnic
groups, and low-income people, who typically live in highcrime neighborhoods and may see their local transit station
as reflecting the crime and disorder in the neighborhood
(Loukaitus-Sideris et al. 2009). These groups are often the
most transit dependent because they lack access to a private vehicle.
Preventing “Broken Windows”
These findings on fear of transit crime support a more
general theory of crime prevention that applies not only to
women but to all potential transit patrons. This so-called broken windows theory, popularized by criminologists James
Q. Wilson and George Kelling (1982), posits that a broken
window that is not repaired sends a message that a facility
is uncared for and thereby presents a target for disorderly or
criminal behavior. In this theory, any sign of neglect, such
as graffiti or scratchiti, or even an overflowing trash bin, has
the same effect.
In addition, Wilson and Kelling theorized that disorder
creates fear in those who live nearby or must use those facilities and that the areas eventually attract sex-traders, drug
addicts, and noisy youths who make the facility even less
desirable to others. When those who are unable to shun the
facility make use of it, they, too, begin to contribute to its
disorder; they believe there is little chance their behavior
will be penalized because there appears to be no responsible authority over the location. This is part of the reason
to make public address announcements reminding patrons
of the consequences of even modest misconduct. It sends a
message to all in hearing distance that the location is being
monitored and that someone is in charge and is responsible.
Even with announcements, a facility may have reached such
a state of neglect that it may require not only CPTED redesign but also uniformed patrol presence until it is restored
to an orderly condition. Once order is re-established, visible video surveillance with appropriate signage indicating
its presence and public address announcements reinforcing
this signage can help assuring patrons that a certain level
of safety, security, and orderliness has been established and
will be maintained.
Transit agencies’ efforts to redesign stations to allay
these fears and, particularly since September 11, 2001,
to add video surveillance systems to public areas have
addressed some but not all of these fears. Studies in Nottingham, England, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, found that
patrons felt only moderately safer with the knowledge that
cameras were watching. In England, focus groups composed of women stated that they did not feel more secure
knowing that “someone, somewhere is supposed to be
watching them” (Trench et al. 1992), and the Michigan
study found that although surveillance cameras were the
most noticed of the security improvements implemented,
they did not have a significant impact on passengers’ feelings of safety (Wallace et al. 1999). Yet because so many
of the studies in the United Kingdom and the United States
are based on small samples or individual locations, the
true effect video surveillance has on patron perception of
security is difficult to determine. Despite this unanswered
question, electronic video surveillance has come to predominate in crime and terrorist prevention efforts around
the world.
The number of passenger rail transit systems has increased
considerably within the past decade as new systems, particularly light rail operations, have initiated service in a number
of cities. Today, passenger rail covers a wide range of agencies, from those operating fewer than a dozen streetcars during the morning and evening rush hours to those running
hundreds of trains for 20 or more hours a day. In addition to
the number of vehicles and distances traveled, the systems
differ in their operating environments and in their organizational and jurisdictional arrangements.
To undertake a comprehensive study, it is important to
survey as many agencies as possible that operate a passenger rail system so that all systems, regardless of size and
complexity, may use the experiences of others to help them
make decisions that fit their needs and pocketbooks. In an
ideal world, everyone can learn from everyone else, but a
new southwestern light rail system would learn fewer lessons from a northeastern heavy or commuter rail system
than from another light rail system regardless of location.
To reach the largest possible number of transit agencies,
a one-page letter from TRB and a four-page survey instrument were emailed to 58 agencies (a copy is provided as
appendix A). Information was received from 43 agencies
(listed in appendix B). In addition to reflecting a high rate of
return for the survey questionnaire (73%), the agencies were
located in all parts of the United States. They reflected all
modes of passenger transit service (heavy, commuter, and
light rail) and included old and new transit systems, including those that do not anticipate entering revenue service for
at least another year or two. The findings may, therefore, be
considered to embody both agency practices and those of the
nation’s passenger rail systems.
Several large transit systems were sent a single questionnaire, even though they are multimodal agencies that operate
two or more transit modes. Although each agency was asked
to identify itself and to include the name and title of the person who completed the questionnaire, each was promised
anonymity unless it granted permission to be named; hence
statistical information does not identify the agencies. Even
with this promise, one agency refused to participate based
on its belief that the information was too sensitive to make
available, and a large, multimodal agency on the East Coast,
declined to participate owing to ongoing litigation involving
its surveillance system provider.
The questionnaire responses were tabulated by the
study’s authors and reviewed with transit specialists. Any
discrepancies or apparent misunderstandings were resolved
through telephone calls or emails to the agency representative who completed the survey. Each of the agencies that
responded used electronic video surveillance in some way.
Agencies that did not employ surveillance could complete
the questionnaire; none did. The agencies that declined to
cooperate also use video surveillance. Yet, because not all
agencies responded, the study cannot state without question that all transit agencies use some form of video surveillance. Although there seems to be overwhelming use
of it, how extensive the use might be continues to be open
to question.
The period of initial introduction of video surveillance
capabilities stretched from the 1970s to within the past few
years. This also reflects the differing ages of the transit agencies themselves. A number of newer systems have included
video surveillance in their operations since the introduction
of revenue service. The agencies that replied each used video
surveillance for a variety of functions. Agencies were provided ten common areas where video surveillance is most
often employed; all correctly understood this to mean locations on which cameras were focused.
Regardless of when it was installed, agencies use surveillance for many purposes and in many areas. The largest number of agencies (40) employed electronic video
surveillance in stations, and on station platforms and shelters, followed by passenger areas onboard railcars (33).
Table 1 indicates where agencies are using video surveillance cameras.
Note that as with all synthesis tables, not all agencies answered all questions; for this reason, actual numbers rather than percentages are provided. Because not all
responders interpreted all questions identically, there are
a small number of discrepancies in some totals. Owing to
the number of respondents, none of these inconsistencies
were considered to have skewed the data and therefore were
retained as submitted.
Onboard Vehicles
In passenger areas
In operator/cab area
Stations, Station Platforms,
Elevators Only
Parking Facilities
Along the ROW
In Storage/Other Yards
In Employee/Administrative Areas
As indicated, the largest locations for electronic video surveillance were stations, station platforms, and shelters. Forty
agencies said they used cameras to observe these areas. Ten
agencies reported that they employed surveillance only
in elevators, but this information contradicted their other
replies. Considering the totality of responses, it appears that
no agencies employ surveillance only in elevators and that
cameras in elevators are part of the overall placement of
cameras elsewhere in stations, station platforms, and shelters or parking facilities.
Although the most common use of video technology is to
observe stations, station platforms, and shelters (which may
or may not include elevators), the percentages of such passenger areas covered by surveillance differed greatly. Using
categories of under 25%, 25% to 50%, 51% to 75%, and
76% or more, the findings indicated that the newer the transit
agency, the more likely that all stations, station platforms,
and shelters were observed by video cameras as part of overall crime prevention efforts (Table 2). Each of the 40 agencies reported the percentage of its stations, station platforms,
and shelters that were covered by its video surveillance systems. Because a number of systems were multimodal, the
percentages are not broken down by mode, but newer rail
systems (which are often all or primarily light rail systems)
tended to fall in the highest category.
Less than 25%
Among older, heavy rail systems, both WMATA and
MARTA have had surveillance capabilities at all their stations since their inception. However, surveillance systems
are not static and need to be upgraded over time. In 2009, for
instance, WMATA announced that it would upgrade its cameras on buses, in ventilation shafts, at station entrances, and
near the ends of platforms by using funding that included a
DHS grant of almost $28 million. Of the total amount, about
$7 million was set aside to add surveillance inside railcars,
in part because the agency viewed the improvements primarily for crowd control even though most of the money
came from security grants (Harwood 2009).
An older system that added cameras well after its initial
operations was Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
(MBTA, known locally as the T).According to TCRP’s Transit Security Update, MBTA, a multimodal system, installed
cameras in all subway stations in conjunction with its installation of automatic fare collection equipment (Nakanishi
2009). Although the T began to install cameras around 2000,
in 2002 it began to upgrade to a fiber-optic network funded
in part by $23 million from DHS. The higher resolution provided by the new cameras resulted in positive media attention
when a man accused of robbing a passenger at gunpoint at the
busy Back Bay station was identified based on a description
that included a tattoo that matched a surveillance image of
the man entering the station at about the time of the robbery
(Daniel and Smalley 2007). Currently, more than 500 cameras have been installed in T stations and in trains; they are
monitored in real time at a number of locations by both police
department and rail operations personnel. At least some of
the cameras will rely on analytic software (“smart” video) to
identify suspicious behaviors and/or objects. MBTA notifies
patrons that cameras are in use.
In Portland, Oregon, Tri-Met video cameras monitor shelters and stations in the Portland Mall area, known
locally as the transit mall. The installation, part of a 2-year
improvement plan in conjunction with the MAX Green Line,
added to a network of cameras that covers most stations and
all parking garages and elevators. Another light rail system
that had earlier benefited from area-wide improvements, San
Diego’s Trolley, operated by the Metropolitan Transit System, was able expand its surveillance network at its C Street
Station through a public/private partnership that included
the C Street Task Force providing time and material valued
at more than $100,000 toward the installation and operation
of eight cameras (“Security Cameras…” 2006).
The Maryland Transit Administration, as part of its overall security and emergency preparedness planning, is adding
cameras at those Metro subway stations and platforms that
were not included in earlier installations and also in a number
of light rail and commuter rail stations. Similar expansion of
video surveillance can be observed around the nation; commonly, such announcements are made by the transit agency,
the funding agency, or in some cases the vendor selected to
install the surveillance network.
Local media coverage of the expansion of surveillance
often includes information about particular crimes or situations where the cameras played a role in apprehension of
suspects or in resolution of problems surrounding disorderly
behavior, often by teenagers using public transportation to
or from school. The Boston case where the forensic evidence
provided by the camera resulted in an arrest is typical.
These cases are examples of how the installation of surveillance technology serves a number of overlapping goals.
Although DHS funding is primarily based on terroristrelated concerns, once cameras are installed they are likely
to assist in fare collection efforts as well as in crime prevention and detection. This is particularly so if they produce
images that are sufficiently detailed to provide a basis for
post-incident investigation and subsequent prosecution. This
type of overlapping function extends beyond transit. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for instance, a $2.4 million DHS grant
in 2008 that was aimed at protecting the city’s waterways,
ports, and rivers resulted in Mayor Luke Ravenstahl submitting a federal grant application for funding to install more
than 220 cameras to cover nearly all of the city’s neighborhoods (Wilkinson 2010). (See the chapter five case study for
a discussion of Pittsburgh’s surveillance plans.)
Video of patrons’ actions may help to mitigate a transit
agency’s liability by showing the patrons as partially responsible for the event that led to their injury or loss claim. For
example, in 2009 in Melbourne, Australia, a 6-month-old
boy escaped with only scratches after his baby carriage
rolled onto the tracks and was struck by a train that dragged
the child about 100 ft before coming to a stop. The mother,
who was could be seen screaming on the video, had also
been seen on the video letting go of the pram just before it
rolled onto the tracks (Sweeney 2009). In yet another fall
onto rail tracks that received widespread coverage less than a
month later, an intoxicated woman was seen falling onto the
tracks on Boston’s T. Although Boston’s video cameras are
not linked to an automatic train control system, the woman
was not hit because the train driver saw passengers on the
platform frantically waving their arms and was able to stop
her train in front of the woman, who later admitted to hospital authorities that she had been drinking (“Train Stops
Short . . .” 2009).
Video cameras at stations have also captured behavior
that has brought bad publicity and most likely added liability to transit agencies and local authorities. Two incidents in
2010 illustrate these unintended consequences. In Portland,
Oregon, two city police officers were suspended after their
police chief and commissioner indicated they were “troubled” by the officers’ handling of a situation that began on
the street but was videoed when it moved onto the MAX
light rail system. In this case, the officials found the officers’
actions over-zealous; in the other situation, although the
security guards did what their job description required their
actions were seen as too placid. In Seattle, video showed a
15-year-old girl being beaten by other teenagers in front of
three security officers in the Downtown Transit Tunnel. After
considerable public outcry, King County Metro announced it
would reexamine its policy forbidding its unarmed security
guards from physically intervening in criminal or suspicious
behavior (Westerman 2010; Stelter Feb. 22, 2010).
One of the most controversial video-based cases did not
involve surveillance cameras directly but occurred when a
shooting by a BART police officer was photographed by a
number of patrons on their cell phones. In that case, in the
early morning hours of January 1, 2009, the officer fatally
shot a patron on the Fruitville station platform in Oakland,
California, following a fight that involved a number of men
on the train and spilled out onto the platform. The officer was
charged with second-degree murder; as the trial began in June
2010, a number of legal experts predicted that its outcome
would provide insight not only into the jury’s attitudes toward
police brutality, but also into the latest legal thinking on the
issues of video evidence (Wood 2010). On July 8, the officer
was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a lesser charge
than the one originally brought against him. In November he
was sentenced to 2 years in prison, a verdict that angered the
community and resulted in protests in Oakland.
The possibility of this type of surveillance of police
behavior has been a concern to police for a number of years.
In a review of the pros and cons of surveillance, Ray Surette
(2007, p. 155) cited a British study in which nearly onefourth of police officers queried saw as a major disadvantage
of surveillance cameras that they were often the ones under
surveillance. The police believed that many low-visibility
arrests that previously went unnoticed would now receive
supervisory attention and could provide an independent
review of their activities that would challenge their version
of events internally and possibly in court proceedings.
Although this study referred specifically to police, the
use of video surveillance to observe employee behavior is
not new and has played a role in managing internal fraud
and misconduct of employees for many years. Video surveillance systems provide protections for employees, particularly those working in remote locations at night or on
weekends, but their installation is often met with resistance
because employees suspect that anything observed on the
video is as likely to be used to criticize their activities as to
protect them from harm.
Whatever the possible downsides of video surveillance
may be perceived to be, responses from agencies as to plans
for its use indicate a strong belief in its positive attributes. As
Table 3 shows, the vast majority of agencies who answered
this question intend to include plans for video surveillance
in all new station designs.
Video Surveillance?
The second most frequent area where surveillance is
employed is onboard railcars, an issue that was addressed
by three survey questions. Respondents who indicated they
used surveillance onboard vehicles were asked to specify
whether this was in passenger areas, in the operator/cab
area, or in both. They were also asked to indicate what percentage of their vehicles had surveillance devices.
Of the 33 agencies that reported having onboard surveillance of passenger areas, 11 indicated it was also employed
in operator/cab areas. There are considerable differences
among modes in the availability of onboard surveillance.
Only two agencies with heavy rail vehicles indicated that
more than 76% of their railcars had video surveillance; an
additional agency reported that new cars would include
cameras. Six agencies with commuter railcars indicated that
more than 76% of their railcars were equipped with video
surveillance, while 16 light rail systems indicated that more
than 76% of their LRVs had surveillance cameras (Table 4).
In general, onboard surveillance appears to have become
far more common since a 2001 TRCP synthesis. Yet direct
comparisons are difficult because of the dissimilarity in
the population surveyed. In that study, Electronic Surveillance Technology on Transit Vehicles, Maier and Malone
(2001) queried 32 agencies. Although 14 of the 30 largest
U.S. transit agencies participated, only 16 were rail agencies
(6 operated heavy rail and 11 provided light rail service).
In addition to those that reported having onboard surveillance, some agencies were planning to install it; others were
in test mode and the systems were not yet operational. Of the
agencies that responded that they had surveillance onboard
vehicles, 11 of 23 indicated that less than 25% of their railcars were equipped with this technology and only 3 reported
that between 76% and 100% of vehicles had cameras. At that
time, both BART and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
indicated that all new vehicles would be equipped with surveillance systems but they did not specify whether these
would include cameras in operator areas/cabs.
In replying to the current synthesis questionnaire, BART
was less definitive as to whether all vehicles would be so
equipped while CTA continued to indicate that it anticipated
installing surveillance in passenger and operator/cab areas
of all new vehicles. The length of time between the two studies may account for the change in BART’s response but also
indicates that multi-year implementation plans may change
as budgets change or as new priorities develop.
Overall, the number of agencies committed to equipping
all new railcars with surveillance technology had increased
substantially since the earlier study (Table 5). Although vehicle manufacturers are now able to routinely accommodate
orders for onboard surveillance, fewer agencies reported that
their plans called for surveillance on new vehicles than those
reporting the same for station design plans.
Heavy Rail
Commuter Rail
Surveillance Onboard?
Light Rail
Yes, Plans Call for Surveillance:
In passenger areas only
Passenger areas and operator/
cab areas
No, Plans Do Not Call for
It is difficult to account for the vast difference among
modes without further study, but some conjecture is possible. Heavy and commuter rail, with a few exceptions, are
generally older systems located in larger cities. Older systems are more likely to have railcars that were purchased
before onboard surveillance was readily available preinstalled by vehicle manufacturers. The costs of retrofitting
these vehicles could be too high and may not be cost-effective depending on whether there are plans to purchase new
vehicles. It is more likely that newer agencies, which most
often are light rail systems, obtained LRVs with preinstalled
surveillance capabilities.
Onboard surveillance systems have a longer history on
buses than on railcars; many of the systems that pioneered
their use on railcars were multimodal agencies that expanded
surveillance to railcars after successful applications on
buses. For instance, the Bi-State Development Agency in
St. Louis, Missouri, had installed surveillance systems on
both buses and its LRVs primarily to curb disruptive behavior by juveniles. Because Bi-State’s MetroLink security staff
did not regularly ride the light rail system, the agency provided images obtained from the video cameras of problem
activities to school officials so that individuals responsible
for causing problems could be identified and disciplined
through the school system. NFTA in Buffalo, New York,
also relied on surveillance to curtail unruly student behavior
on its buses but not on its railcars. NFTA indicated for this
synthesis that surveillance was employed in onboard passenger areas and that new vehicles would be similarly equipped,
although there were no plans for operator/cab surveillance.
Maier and Malone (2001, pp. 14–17) found that in Philadelphia, SEPTA also recorded the interior of buses for afterincident reviews of its video images but did not do so in its
railcars. SEPTA’s dual interests were in curtailing the behavior of unruly teens and also reducing fraudulent claims. To
achieve these goals, the introduction of surveillance was
widely publicized through the local media, resulting in
what SEPTA considered a significant reduction in claims
of approximately $15 million per year compared with 1991
data. Another multimodal system with cameras on buses
but not railcars was CTA, which hoped to curtail bus crime,
graffiti, and scratchiti, and planned to use the video for postincident review. Neither system was considering similar
experiments for its railcars.
Tri-Met, another bus/rail agency, decided to install video
on its railcars based on the success of its pilot program on its
buses. Tri-Met had piloted the use of cameras on three buses
in 1987; by the early 1990s about 40 buses had been equipped
and at the time of Maier and Malone’s study the agency had
budgeted $1.2 million for a surveillance systems on 72 of its
LRVs, hoping to rely on the video not only for deterrence
and for post-incident investigation, but also to provide evidence in civil (tort) cases involving passenger injury claims.
By 2010, Tri-Met noted on its website that all MAX/WES
trains, most train stations, and all parking garages and elevators were equipped with surveillance.
As indicated in Table 5, only a small number of agencies
employed video surveillance in operator/cab areas. An even
smaller number anticipated that all new railcars would have
this preinstalled. Whether this will change cannot be anticipated, but the federal government has shown interest in this
issue following the crash of a Southern California Regional
Rail Authority (Metrolink) commuter train in Chatsworth,
California, in 2008. Twenty-eight people were killed in that
incident, including the engineer, who, later investigation
determined, was composing a text message when he ran a
red signal and collided with a freight train.
In early 2010, the NTSB recommended that cameras be
required in all locomotives as a management tool to ensure
that operators are not sending text messages, talking on cell
phones, sleeping, admitting unauthorized persons into the
cab area, or violating other FRA safety regulations. Metrolink installed two cameras that observe cab activities; the
cameras remain despite a lawsuit filed by the Brotherhood of
Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen to have them removed.
If upheld, this safety regulation would exceed those in aircraft, where cockpits are not under constant surveillance for
safety rule violations but are equipped with voice recorders
used to investigate accidents. Because Metrolink, a commuter rail agency, is regulated by the FRA rather than the
FTA, it is unclear whether the regulations could ultimately
apply to FTA-regulated agencies.
Pending resolution of the litigation, in May 2010, Metrolink barred one engineer from operating trains and another
was under investigation for having allegedly tampered with
the surveillance cameras. The allegations involve attempts
at blocking the cameras’ view. Indicating how easily expensive, sophisticated equipment can be outwitted, the charges
in one case involved clipping a paper to a visor to block the
camera and in the other case involved turning the camera
and putting a visor in front of it to block its view. The union
contended that the actions were taken because sun visors
that were moved to accommodate the cameras make it more
difficult for engineers to see clearly when there is a glare.
Metrolink has countered this claim by noting that it has
issued engineers sunglasses and that visors are still available (“Metrolink Says…” 2010). The United Transportation
Union (UTU) gave the matter prominent coverage on its
website, noting, somewhat ironically, that the actions that
led to action against the engineers had been captured by the
cameras that are the focus of the dispute. The union does
not accept the agency’s viewpoint that there is “no expectation of privacy in a locomotive cab” (“Metrolink Engineers
Probed…” 2010). How the courts resolve this dispute will
have an impact on the use of video images in internal disciplinary matters and will be likely to influence a number of
administrative issues discussed in chapter four.
Surveillance is common at parking facilities; 28 agencies
indicated they employed cameras in these locations. Installation of video surveillance in parking facilities, whether open
lots or multistory structures, provides assurance to patrons
that they and their vehicles are safe while in the facility. Rail
lines that rely on riders who park in the morning and leave
their vehicles until they return at the end of the work day must
be particularly careful to assure patrons that their vehicles are
safe from theft and vandalism. Because vehicles parked in
one spot all day are typically targets for theft or vandalism,
parking facility security also has wide-ranging implications
for risk management as patrons are likely to report these violations to the transit or local police and to their insurance carriers to claim reimbursement for loss or damages.
Parking lot crime can also result in damage to an agency’s
image. Such crimes are likely to gain considerable media
attention, particularly on commuter blogs. BART became
an example of this when the EastBay Express article “Lots
of Trouble” reported on a series of parking lot crimes in
summer 2007. In one case, three teenagers attacked a man
and fled with his cell phone and laptop; in another, six
men attacked another man, hurling him to the ground and
demanding money (Atlas 2008).
Protecting the “Whole Journey”
Although in these cases both the victims were men, the fears
surrounding what has come to be termed “the whole journey”
have been associated with the fears expressed by women. The
whole journey concept goes beyond the stations, platforms,
shelters, and railcars themselves to include public bus shelters, parking lots, and even the walk or ride to or from home to
the transit station. In their study, How to Ease Women’s Fears
of Transportation Environments, Loukaitou-Sideris, and colleagues (2009, p. 50) found that security measures in the more
enclosed and easily controllable parts of the transportation
system (defined as the buses, trains, and station platforms)
and the relative neglect of the more open and public parts (bus
stops and parking lots) did not serve women’s needs. This is
because women were more typically fearful at desolate bus
stops or walking through parking lots devoid of human activity than they were once on their buses or trains.
Although conceding that transit agencies lacked the
resources to assign police officers throughout the system,
the researchers pointed out that the installation of cameras,
while less popular with patrons than uniformed officers, was
less expensive and was a more likely response to such fear.
According to Norman D. Bates, president of a risk management consulting firm, women’s fears are not unfounded. He
has estimated that as many as 40% of rapes and assaults
take place in parking lots (Atlas 2008). In addition to the
risk this presents it has profound implications for transit ridership; those who are overly fearful of having to retrieve
their vehicles from parking facilities are unlikely to consider
using mass transit.
Camera Placements
Outdoor parking facilities in areas without extreme climate
changes may be fairly easy to protect, but indoor multistory
lots require more planning than merely placing cameras anywhere on any floor. Denver’s RTD, for instance, places its
cameras so that the areas under observation include elevator
waiting areas and emergency telephone locations, among others (Figures 2 and 3).
FIGURE 2 Cameras are often placed adjacent to
stations near malls, tourist attractions, or college
campuses. This camera placement at the light rail
station near Denver’s Metropolitan College campus
is designed to blend into campus design elements.
Photo courtesy of Dorothy M. Schulz.
FIGURE 3 Denver’s RTD places cameras near
handicapped access ramps. Photo courtesy of
Dorothy M. Schulz.
Houston METRO is one of a large number of agencies
that monitor park-and-ride facilities to prevent a variety of
crimes, including vehicle thefts and thefts from vehicles.
Cameras also can be used to observe that patrons are not
annoyed by panhandlers or do not become the victims of
more serious crimes. Staff members who are monitoring the
cameras are often able to communicate with drivers in the
parking facilities and to control a number of lots’ electronic
gates through their central operations center (Nakanishi
2009, p. 23)
Lighting and the color of ceilings and walls can also influence camera placement. Another decision point is whether
the cameras are primarily for patron and vehicle safety
or whether they are placed to observe payment booths to
minimize the possibility of people parking without paying.
Focusing a camera on the entry/exit booth may also allow
the transit agency to observe whether booth attendants are
properly charging patrons and recording the fees. Camera
placement may also be influenced by whether the booth
attendants need to be protected so that they do not become
crime victims.
Parking facilities were among the first facilities where
transit systems relied on video cameras to assure patrons of
their own safety and the safety of their vehicles. Reflecting
the recognition that patron fears relating to parking facilities had a major impact on ridership, three of the field tests
undertaken by Interactive Elements Inc. for a TCRB study
of transit police/security deployments, Guidelines for the
Effective Use of Uniformed Transit Police and Security Personnel, pertained to parking lots. In those tests, MARTA
implemented bicycle patrol by its police officers to enhance
visibility at a large heavy rail station and bus transfer point
that had been the scene of thefts of and from autos. Employing a different strategy, Metrolink worked with the Claremont, California, Police Department to assign a local,
nonsworn uniformed officer in a marked patrol car to a post
in the parking lot. In both tests, crime dropped.
The LIRR field test for the same study was an early
example of the use of surveillance technology in conjunction with covert policing tactics. Based on patron surveys in
the early 1990s, the LIRR had learned that customers were
concerned about parking lot security and auto-related thefts.
This led to a number of its police officers being assigned to
these outdoor lots, which resulted in an increase in arrests
for either theft of the autos themselves or thefts from the
vehicles. By 1993, in response to legislative hearings that
stemmed from the December 7, 1993, shooting on an LIRR
train that resulted in six deaths, parking lot security became
an issue. The importance of parking lot security to patrons
was evident; even thought the shooting occurred on the train
and parking or parking lots were not involved, Given the
opportunity to comment on their safety and security concerns LIRR patrons chose to focus on something far more
mundane than the shooting.
From the hearings, then-LIRR Police Chief John J.
O’Connor found that the stereotypical “Dashing Dan” was
now also “Dashing Dianna”—40% of the primarily business
commuter ridership on the LIRR was female, and, in an echo
of what the TTC/METRAC study had found, women had
higher fear levels than men. The auto crime officers, who
worked in street-clothes in conjunction with local police,
were arrest-oriented and were able to bring the theft statistics
down more than 50% between 1993 and 1995 (Interactive
Elements Inc. 1997). Members of the unit attributed their
success to the availability of unmarked cars that allowed
them to remain surreptitiously in the parking lots but also to
having a member of the team monitor surveillance cameras
within the lot so that the plainclothes officers in the lot could
be quickly dispatched to arrest the thieves in the act of stealing parked vehicles (Schulz and Gilbert 1995, p. 27).
Adding surveillance to parking facilities addresses patron
fears and may result in lowered crime rates, but it also has
important implications for risk management. Because of the
extensive literature on parking lot crime and the importance
of design and oversight of parking facilities, those who are
victimized in these areas are likely to file claims or lawsuits
against the agency responsible for the facility. Based on the
doctrine of “foreseeability”—that it could be anticipated
that something would occur in a particular location if left
unattended or unprotected—such lawsuits generally allege
negligence based on such factors as an insufficient number
of police/security officers, a lack of patrols, or an absence of
such common security measures as emergency telephones,
adequate lighting and signage, and electronic video surveillance. Surveillance policies may be further questioned as to
whether the cameras are monitored in real time, which may
present issues if patrons believe that help is on the way when
that is not so (Jones 2006).
Surveillance technology was heavily employed in areas in
which equipment is stored or in administrative areas. In
both situations, more than half the respondents (26 for storage and other yards and 28 in employee and administrative
areas) indicated they relied on surveillance systems to safeguard these areas and, in some cases, to monitor employee
Onboard surveillance in operator/cab areas remains
controversial, but use of video cameras in other employee
administrative areas has become commonplace. A number
of reasons can be posited for this. Cameras in employee
areas require no technological features different from those
required in other industries. But cameras in yards and other
outdoor facilities may require greater planning and the need
to include special features to protect the cameras themselves
from damage or vandalism. Placement of cameras in yards
and other employee-related areas can also be seen as providing not only oversight of employee actions but also protection for employees. Employees, particularly those working
in remote locations, can be victims of crime. Just as cameras
may be seen as enhancing risk mitigation and management
oversight, they may also be seen as crime prevention mechanisms for protecting employees and their property.
A number of transit agencies have used video surveillance
in employee areas for decades, including Buffalo’s NFTA
and Cleveland’s RTA, which in addition to monitoring key
revenue facilities as early as the mid-1990s maintained a
surveillance vehicle for covert operations (Gilbert 1995).
Although a wide variety of locations were listed among the
types of employee facilities where video was installed, a
number of generalizations are possible. Surveillance tended
to be employed most frequently in equipment yards and
wherever personnel had access to large amounts of cash.
The other most-frequently-listed location was the operations
control center. Fewer than half the agencies indicated that
their headquarters buildings were monitored by video surveillance but a small number indicated that all agency locations, including satellite offices, were monitored. Customer
service areas and public lobbies; TVMs; and warehouses,
storerooms, loading docks, and commissaries were among
the locations listed as under video monitoring. One agency
noted that its incline plane control station and the souvenir
gift shop were monitored.
surveillance at the entrance to its yard in this category and
another included pedestrian crossings near a bridge. This
small system, in operation since 2004, also reported that it
relied on surveillance only along its ROW and that no other
portions of the transit system were monitored by video cameras. Phoenix’s Valley Metro (another case study agency) did
not state in its questionnaire response that it employs any
ROW surveillance, but protection of its Town Lake Bridge
in Tempe, Arizona, is a major element of its surveillance
network (see chapter five).
Use of video surveillance technology along the ROW was
uncommon. Of the 43 responding agencies, only 14 indicated that they used surveillance along the ROW. Of these,
12 indicated its use primarily near stations. Only two agencies reported the use of surveillance at grade crossings and
two indicated its use at interchanges with other railroads
(Table 6).
Installation Location
Near Stations, Station Platforms,
or Shelters
At Grade Crossings
At Interchanges with Other Rail
In High Disorder/Crime Areas
The number of uses exceeded the number of agencies
because some agencies that employed ROW surveillance
used it in multiple locations. Illustrative of the importance of
local decision-making, it is difficult to generalize about the
agencies that employed ROW surveillance or about the subcategories listing where they used it. For instance, the two
systems that reported using surveillance at grade crossings
included an old, established West Coast multimodal system
and a light rail system that recently added a small number of
trolleys to augment its primarily bus transit system. Similarly, the two systems that indicated use of surveillance at
interchange locations were the same trolley system that had
installed cameras at grade crossings and a long-established
Midwestern commuter rail line. Three agencies indicated
the presence of surveillance equipment in areas they defined
as high disorder or crime areas.
Seven agencies, including one case study agency (Minnesota’s Metro Transit), had installed surveillance in areas
listed as “other”; in most of these instances, “other” was
defined as critical areas such as subways, bridges, and tunnels. Of these agencies, all but Metro Transit were commuter
or heavy rail systems, although one smaller system included
Although passenger rail systems do not generally conduct surveillance of the ROW, a number of bus systems
have employed it to assist in injury claims adjudication or,
less frequently, to monitor for suspicious activities. In these
instances, cameras were installed not only inside buses to cut
down on crime and vandalism, but also outside the vehicles
to monitor activity along the bus route and to alert operators
to suspicious activities. For instance, HARTline, in Tampa,
Florida, began using surveillance along its bus transitway in
the 1990s to alert supervisors to suspicious activities. Broward County, Florida, did the same, hoping to cut down on
crime and vandalism but also on accident and injury claims
that drivers could not verify owing to their inability to monitor all areas of the bus from the front seat (Gilbert 1995).
Intercity Transit in Olympia, Washington, which maintains 22 separate bus routes, installed cameras on its approximately 100 buses and vans to better managing public safety
and to mitigate liability. A 35% increase in riders over a
5-year period, combined with a number of assaults in downtown Olympia, led to the decision to integrate the cameras
into the existing global positioning system (GPS) and alarm
systems to “increase security initiatives, deter vandalism
and theft, mitigate accident and liability claims, and enhance
operations.” According to transit management, although
none of the assaults were on bus operators, stabbings near
the transit system led to customer fears of crime, a concern
that it was believed would be addressed by the added surveillance (“More Traffic…” 2007). This is an example of a
transit agency’s awareness of the whole journey concept. By
responding to events that occurred off its premises but in
its immediate area of operation, Intercity recognized that
patron fear could discourage ridership.
Deterring Trespassers with Video Cameras and Sensors
The increase in the number of cities using cameras to photograph and send summonses to red-light and right-turnon-red violators has the potential to expand into a way to
provide ROW surveillance or, more likely, to photograph and
fine railroad crossing gate violators. Although none of the
transit agencies specifically mentioned using surveillance
this way, a number have turned to photo enforcement cameras to minimize deaths and injuries and to mitigate liability
at rail crossings.
LACMTA installed photo-enforcement cameras along
the Blue Line in 2007; violators were fined a minimum of
$271 for the first offense (Abdollah 2007). In early 2009, the
city of El Mirage, Arizona, expanded its traffic cameras to
a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad crossing,
contracting for a system called Redflexrail, which detects
when vehicles drive around railroad crossing gates and
also records the bell sounds and whistles of approaching
trains. As with most red-light camera operations, the costs
of installation, operation, and maintenance is borne by the
contractor and the city pays the company a portion of the
fines that are collected. Although the idea was not BNSF’s,
the freight railroad has been in talks with other contractors
about implementing camera-based crossing enforcement.
A BNSF spokesman noted that the railway supported video
enforcement because it could “influence driver behavior at
rail crossings and increase driver safety” (Leung 2009).
A similar plan was instituted in Sydney, Australia, in
2006, when mobile cameras, fences, and warnings signs
were erected along a number of rail corridors in a campaign
intended to deter people from walking over the tracks. The
initiative was instituted after CityRail reported more than
2,300 instances of trespassing in 2005–2006, resulting in 23
deaths and 11 serious injuries. The remote-controlled cameras, called Spycams, which cost about $250,000 each, can
be used in poor light and at night and are portable enough to
be moved to trespassing “hot spots” by railway employees
(Silmalis 2006). A number of U.S. rail agencies use similar
mobile cameras mounted on lifts with adjustable heights to
provide temporary coverage in outdoor parking lots where a
series of crimes have been reported. The cameras are then
moved to new areas as problems and activity shifts from
facility to facility.
A number of the case study agencies (see chapter five)
are using or are planning to use photo enforcement in combination with sensors to deter both vehicles and pedestrians
trespassing on their alignments. Metro Transit uses cameras
equipped with analytics to monitor portals into tunnels and
at Minneapolis’ Lindbergh Airport to supplement its intrusion detection system. Houston’s METRO is in the process of
expanding its surveillance network to add cameras along its
alignment that would monitor nontransit vehicles that make
illegal turns into its alignment. PAAC has relied on chemical/radiation-detection sensors in a number of its downtown
subway stations since 2006–2007. And Valley Metro relies
on a combination of intrusion detection and surveillance
cameras to protect the Tempe Town Lake Bridge.
Many transit systems are reluctant to discuss their use
of sensors, particularly because many of the installations
are seen as terrorist-related early warning systems for
detection of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and
explosive materials. Despite this, some information can be
gleaned from media accounts, vendor announcements, and
other public documents. Relying on these sources, among
the transit systems that have installed motion detectors and
sensors are MTA (New York and Connecticut), MTA-MD,
Most but not all of these agencies purchased all or part of
their sensor systems with the help of DHS grants. However,
not all published sources are reliable; as recently as 2009,
at least one video surveillance blog stated that BART had
announced in 2007 that it would be expanding its existing
surveillance system to include cameras along the tracks, but
responses by BART to this synthesis’ questionnaire did not
confirm this information.
Right-of-Way Trespassing
Deterring trespassers from the ROW is an area in which
crime prevention and risk mitigation strategies and concerns
overlap. Trespassers may be innocent of any ill intentions
toward the transit system, but they may cause damage to
property or injury to themselves. They may also be malevolent. Reviewing the British response to IRA terrorism as part
of a larger study, Protecting Public Surface Transportation
Against Terrorism and Serious Crime: Continuing Research
on Best Security Practices, undertaken for MTI, Brian Jenkins and Larry N. Gersten found that as stations were better
protected, usually through use of video technology, attackers moved their attacks to switch boxes and areas away from
stations (p. 20).
Because these crimes often occur in remote locations,
they are difficult to solve, as with the derailing of Amtrak’s
Sunset Limited in Hyder, Arizona, on October 9, 1995, about
59 miles southwest of Phoenix, Arizona, on an isolated portion of Southern Pacific Railway’s ROW. The train carried
248 passengers and a crew of 20; the derailment caused 65
injuries and the death of one employee. Property damage was
estimated at close to $3,000,000. The crime had been committed by the removal of spikes from the rails, the removal
of nuts and bolts from the rail joints, and the disabling of the
signal system, in addition to other acts of vandalism. Despite
evidence found at the scene indicating an intentional derailment, the crime has never been solved (Terrorism in Surface
Transportation 1996).
Such incidents are not unique to the United States. In the
2007 RAND Corporation study Securing America’s Passenger-Rail Systems, Jeremy M. Wilson and colleagues broke
down terrorist attacks on rail systems worldwide from 1998
through 2006. Their database contained 24,000 attacks, of
which 455 were against solely rail targets (2% of the total).
They also noted that recent attacks were more numerous and
were a source for concern owing to the number of causalities
and significant damage to the rail system that they caused.
Further refining their database to 886 incidents, they found
that of incidents where a weapon was involved, the percentage that occurred inside railcars, in stations, and on the
tracks was virtually identical (26, 25, and 25, respectively).
Of the incidents that occurred on the tracks, they considered 79% to have been caused by bombings, 16% through
sabotage (defined as damage without use of a weapon, such
as removal of rails or damaging equipment), 2% by armed
attack, and 2% by arson. Although it is impossible to confirm this claim, video surveillance along the ROW might
have prevented or in some way mitigated the effects of some
of these track-related incidents.
Current DHS projects that involve passenger rail agencies are intended to provide ROW protection by extending
the reach of electronic video surveillance from patron and
employee areas to the tracks. In addition to those mentioned
as already having received DHS funding, system upgrades
currently under way generally call for a network based on
surveillance and remote sensing equipment. One current
plan involves monitoring tunnels and tracks leading into
and out of Washington, D.C., as part of the National Capital
Region Rail Pilot Program and the Amtrak Security Pilot
Program. The Rail Pilot Program, authorized in 2006 by the
National Capital Planning Commission, provided $10 million for a pilot project to create a virtual boundary through
an 8-mile section of ROW through the DC Rail Corridor,
which includes Union Station, L’Enfant Plaza, the Virginia
Avenue and First Avenue tunnels, and the Long and Anacostia bridges.
According to the DHS notice posted in the Federal Register in November 2007: “The virtual boundary (fence) shall
consist of video camera technology integrated with intelligent vision interpretation software that will enable the
system to detect moving objects, detect intruders crossing
virtual boundaries, identify personnel loitering in the area,
and identify unauthorized suspicious objects left behind or
objects removed along the rail line” (“Sophisticated Surveillance…” 2007, p. 44).
The system is based on real-time monitoring not only
of video images, but of data and alarm information at three
police communications centers; CSX Corp. will maintain
one at its Jacksonville, Florida, headquarters and Amtrak
will maintain two, both accessible in Philadelphia and New
York City. Also part of the program is an explosive detection
system and installation of chemical detection sensors along
5 miles of track. The combination of agencies involved in
the project includes police staff from Amtrak and CSX. Data
will be available to the Washington DC Metropolitan Police,
the U.S. Capital Police, the National Park Service Police, and
other agencies to be authorized by DHS.
In an earlier system upgrade that was also supported by
funds from DHS, the Delaware River Port Authority used its
$3.8 million grant to upgrade surveillance at 14 rail stations
and tunnels between rail stations adjacent to its 14-milelong ROW. As part of the overall project, which included
installation of more than 250 cameras and almost 100 emergency telephones, cameras were to be installed above and
below the Ben Franklin Bridge, a seven-lane highway with
tracks on either side that connects Philadelphia to southern
New Jersey. The under-the-bridge cameras were intended to
monitor passing boats and mitigate the risk of a water-borne
terrorist attack (Stelter Sept. 2008).
In a separate project, in 2006 the UPRR began to introduce
wireless surveillance video and sensors to its 7,000 locomotives with the aim of permitting centralized monitoring and
recording of a train’s path, maintaining a record of brake use,
and recording the use of horns and bells. The system is different from Metrolink’s use of surveillance inside locomotives.
The UPRR plan is not meant to track the activities of engineers, but to permit locomotive operators to access video during security-related events (Marcoux 2006, p. 14).
A number of areas involving ROW surveillance have so
far received limited attention, including the use of surveillance onboard vehicles to monitor the ROW from inside
the vehicles or from remote locations. As with the use of
cameras and sensors for traffic or trespasser control, these
areas await further study. As technology improves and
information about these pilot projects receives wider publicity at rail industry gatherings and in industry publications, it can be anticipated that there will be a greater focus
in these areas, particularly if antiterrorism funds continue
to be available from DHS or if transit agencies develop
methods for partnering with local authorities, particularly
in controlling unauthorized access to light rail alignments
by road vehicles.
As surveillance technology advances and its use becomes
commonplace throughout the transit industry, agencies are
being presented with an expanding list of places that it can
be employed. The decisions are not made in a vacuum, and
once a decision to rely on video surveillance is made, a number of questions arise. An important question is whether the
cameras will be monitored in real time or used solely for
forensic investigation. Once this is decided, additional questions must be answered. For instance, if the system will be
viewed in real time, will it be always monitored or only during operating hours, and who will do the monitoring (i.e.,
police/security, rail operations, or some combination of
these staffs). Whether viewed in real time or later, questions
need to be answered about how and where images will be
stored and who will have access to them. Additional questions may arise surrounding whether those on the transit
system’s property (patrons, employees, or even trespassers)
should be informed that their actions are being monitored by
video surveillance.
This chapter relies on questionnaire responses and
the literature review to provide a snapshot of how agencies have answered some of these questions. It also provides examples of how such decisions impact policies and
The use of surveillance in the United States is not as
widespread as it is in the United Kingdom, but it has been
steadily expanding. It is not unusual for newspaper readers
around the nation to see stories about their cities increasing their reliance on cameras for a number of crime prevention efforts. New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, and
Pittsburgh are only a few of those whose mayors have
spoken frequently on the issue, and many smaller cities
have turned to cameras without the fanfare and publicity of
these larger municipalities (Figure 4). Announcements of
transit agencies’ expansion of their surveillance networks
also receive local attention from the media.
FIGURE 4 The New York City Police Department
posts signs on local streets indicating the presence of
security cameras. This sign was across the street from
a Manhattan subway station. Photo courtesy of Dorothy
M. Schulz.
To provide some guidance on why certain surveillance
installations and placements were made, agencies that had
installed surveillance cameras on fewer than 76% of their
stations, station platforms, or shelters were asked why certain locations were covered and others were not. Using a
five-point scale ranging from least to most important, the
two most important factors in determining which stations,
station platforms, or shelters had surveillance or on which
it might be installed were “high disorder/crime rate” and
“funds available to retrofit” (Table 7).
Decisions on where and when to employ electronic surveillance may be influenced by patron expectations, which
have changed considerably with the current focus on safety
and security. For instance, when, on December 7, 1993,
Colin Ferguson shot 23 people—6 fatally—on an LIRR
train, no one asked why the railcar lacked surveillance video.
The response to this event may have been tempered by Ferguson’s immediate capture by an off-duty transit officer, but
more recent crimes on transit properties that are not captured
on video leave the agency subject to criticism. For instance,
in May 2010, NYCT was criticized after an encounter in a
Greenwich Village subway station that was not captured on
video led officials to admit that almost half the cameras in
the subway did not work. Ironically, the absence of video
played no role in the case. The 19-year-old suspect arrested
in the deaths of two other men was released when a grand
jury refused to indict after deciding he had acted in self
defense (Eligon 2010, p. A13).
Most Important
Least Important
High disorder/crime rate
Local demands/politics
Enhance perceived customer safety
Funds available to retrofit existing stations,
station platforms, or
New stations, platforms,
or shelters designed to
accommodate surveillance devices
Other (none specified)
Similarly, agencies that reported that fewer than 76% of
their railcars were equipped with surveillance technology
were asked to indicate the most and least important reasons
for equipping some vehicles and not others. Table 8 indicates the number of agencies for whom choices were most
and least important.
Most Important
Least Important
High disorder/crime rate
Local demands/politics
Enhance perceived customer safety
Funds available to retrofit existing railcars
New railcars equipped at
Other (none specified)
Although only a small number of transit systems indicated that politics played a role in installation of surveillance
cameras, a number of major cities’ mayors have been vocal
in their support of video surveillance throughout their cit-
ies, including the local or regional transit systems. Two of
the most vocal officials have been Chicago’s Mayor Richard
M. Daley and New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
whose cities contain, respectively, the second-largest and
largest U.S. transit systems. Differences in the current status
of surveillance-related issues by CTA and NYCT highlight
not only political issues, but also problems that may occur
with vendors, particularly in retrofitting aging heavy rail
transit systems.
In May 2010, Mayor Daley and CTA President Richard
L. Rodriguez announced that by May 31 at least one or more
surveillance cameras would be installed in all 144 CTA stations and that nearly 3,000 cameras would be installed by the
end of the year (“Mayor Daley …” 2010). The announcement
came less than a year after Daley appointed Rodriguez CTA
president and encouraged him to focus on improving the
safety on the system. Crime on CTA had increased slightly
in 2008 and early 2009, and when he was appointed Rodriguez noted that cameras were installed on every bus and that
he hoped to have them at all train stations with 18 months.
The CTA has received $22.6 million in DHS funds since
2006, a portion of which is being used to expand its network
of cameras. Although the transit system has also invested
approximately $19 million of its own funds in the project,
the importance of DHS funding was highlighted by Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson, who noted
that the DHS grants have allowed CTA to make “significant
upgrades to the security and surveillance network” (“Mayor
Daley...” 2010). CTA began adding cameras in 2002; in January 2011 Amy Kovalan, CTA’s chief safety and security
officer, announced that CTA would install cameras on about
half its rail cars based on an existing DHS grant and had a
“verbal agreement” from DHS to pay for installation on the
remaining cars. An installation schedule was not provided
(“CTA to add security cameras to trains” 2011).
The Chicago Police Department, whose transit division
provides policing for the CTA, estimated that cameras had
played a role in more than 4,500 arrests since 2006. Rodriguez
also noted the importance of the cameras to the CTA Control Center, which views real-time video to assist in passenger safety by monitoring and managing service disruptions
and by providing the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications the ability to communicate with
police, fire, emergency response, and CTA personnel during
incidents. In the past, although he has not provided specific
numbers, Mayor Daley has stated that Chicago’s network of
public and private surveillance cameras is “the largest in the
United States” (Spielman 2010). The announcement of the
expansion of the surveillance network included information
that all new railcars would arrive with cameras pre-installed
and that a pilot program would be undertaken to determine
the feasibility of retrofitting existing vehicles.
New York’s mayor—and its transit system—have been
less successful in plans to increase video surveillance in
NYCT’s subway system. Although its size and the age of the
system combine to make NYCT unrepresentative of transit agencies, its experiences are instructive of problems that
can occur, albeit on a smaller scale, for all transit systems.
In April 2009, the MTA, which oversees the NYCT, was
sued by its video surveillance contractor, Lockheed Martin.
The company alleged that the agency’s interference relating
to its $300 million contract to install a network of digital
cameras had prevented it from completing work begun in
late 2005. Two months later the MTA countersued, claiming
Lockheed Martin had “bungled” the antiterrorism program
that was intended to link 2,000 subway cameras into an
intelligent video surveillance command center. At the time,
the MTA stated that only about 1,400 of the 1,750 cameras
were installed and that few were working. The basis of its
countersuit was that the system had failed repeatedly during
tests and that Lockheed Martin had falsely claimed the work
was progressing even though about $250 million had been
spent (Namako 2009).
Regardless of the claims and counterclaims, some of the
cameras’ inability to capture video was attributed to the transit environment, where heat, water, and electrical problems
slowed the job’s progress. These are all factors that may limit
attempts to retrofit a century-old transit system to accept modern technology (Rivera and Grynbaum 2010). The lawsuit is
pending; because of this, MTA and its constituent agencies
declined to reply to this synthesis’s questionnaire.
Many factors may influence the decision to install a surveillance network in all or part of the transit system. In the
case of Tri-Met, the route played a role because concern
centered on its 5.5-mile Airport MAX line, which travels
from downtown Portland to Portland International Airport.
Since it began revenue service in September 2001, video surveillance has been employed along the line, but because the
Airport MAX terminus was in close proximity to the air terminal, the FAA requested that no train be unattended at the
airport. In addition to adding security patrols to the airport
station during all operating hours and checking all trains for
unattended items, Tri-Met installed surveillance cameras at
the airport station. This also illustrates the expanded role of
the federal government in local decisions since 9/11. Using
grant funds, Tri-Met also installed cameras on all 78 MAX
trains, at stations with elevators, and at a number of parking
garages (Eder 2005, p. 1927).
Because transit agencies are local entities, each needs to
purchase surveillance equipment independently of other
transit agencies. In the aftermath of terrorist attacks on
transit systems worldwide, U.S. transit systems began to
receive considerable financial support for equipment and
for employee training and terrorist awareness programs
from the federal government.
As indicated by the responding transit agencies, currently the major funding source for surveillance systems is
the DHS Transit Security Grant Program, followed by funding from the FTA. APTA has also increased its presence in
transit security, and both it and the FTA have published a
number of studies of best practices that were the basis for
many of the directives issued by the TSA in 2004 to public
transit agencies (Jenkins and Butterworth 2007). DHS/TSA
has awarded grants for planning, training, equipment, and
other security enhancements, in addition to providing other
services to transit agencies. Some grant programs have been
used to undertake risk assessments and bolster emergency
response capabilities. The largest percentage of the available funds, though, is used for employee training and for the
purchase of surveillance equipment.
Prior to the creation of DHS in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FTA was the most common source of funds for
purchasing equipment; Maier and Malone (2001) reported
that 14 of their responding agencies, which included both
bus and rail systems, received funds from the FTA grant
program, 9 relied on state grants, 6 on local funds, 6 on internal funding sources, and 1 on an unspecified source. They
noted, though, that about one-third of the agencies used a
combination of sources to fund their purchases (2001, pp.
23–24). The FTA helps transit agencies fund security projects by providing financial assistance and by requiring that
agencies spend 1% of their urbanized area grant program
funds on security improvements. These funds are available
to jurisdictions with populations of 50,000 or more for use
for capital investments, operating expenses, and transportation-related planning.
The existence of DHS funding has had a direct influence
on rail transit expenditures for security. For this study, agencies were asked to indicate the percentage of their funding
that came from a number of sources, including the FTA
grant program, DHS, state grants, municipal grants, agency
funding, funding or grants from surveillance equipment
vendors, or any other sources. Agencies were not asked to
provide dollar amounts; they were asked only to indicate the
percentages of funds from each source.
Table 9 indicates the number of agencies that listed
receiving more than 50% of their funds for surveillance
expenditures from any one of the choices provided and those
that indicated that 100% of their funds came from any one
source. Agencies that did not receive at least 50% of their
funds from a sole source but from a variety of the sources
are not included. One light rail system than anticipates revenue service beginning in 2011 received an equal percentage
of funding from FTA and DHS (50% received from each).
Valley Metro in Phoenix, a case study agency, was the only
agency whose surveillance network was funded solely with
agency money. As a new transit system, it was not eligible
for DHS grants but will be able to compete for such funds
now that it is fully operational.
Source of Funds for
Video Surveillance
50% or More
All Funds
FTA Grant Program
State Grants
Municipal Grants
Agency Funding
Vendor Funding/Grant
Because agencies were promised anonymity, analysis of
the table is general. The two agencies that received 100%
of their funds from FTA are recently opened systems. The
agencies that received 100% of their funds from DHS include
Amtrak (which is federally funded overall), two commuter,
and one light rail agency. The agencies that received 50% or
more of their funding from either FTA or DHS do not fall
into easy categorization with the possible exception that a far
larger number of FTA-funded agencies are newer systems in
areas of the country that are less likely to be seen as major
terrorist targets, although there were exceptions to either of
these descriptions. With few exceptions, the agencies that
received at least 50% of their funds from DHS were established transit agencies in urbanized areas.
The three agencies that received more than 50% of their
funding from sources other than FTA or DHS are equally
difficult to categorize. The agency that received all its funding from state grants is a new commuter rail system and the
one that received 50% of its funding from state grants is
an established light rail system located in a different state.
Finally, the agency that funded more than 50% of its surveillance-related costs from its own funds is a large, longestablished eastern seaboard agency.
Results received in answer to this question underline that
the sources of funding for surveillance are limited even if
the dollar amounts are considerable. Only a few agencies
reported receiving funds or grants from vendors, and these
generally cover 10% or less of their costs. Although commuter rail agencies are regulated by FRA and would be eligible for FRA financial support for surveillance initiatives
including under the FHWA’s Highway-Rail Crossing Program, none indicated this as a source of funds.
The responses overwhelming reinforce the importance
of external funding for purchasing and upgrading surveillance systems. Although transit systems must in effect compete against one another for the DHS funds, the amounts
of money available are larger than from any other single
source. For instance, in May 2010 the DHS announced that
it would release almost $790 million in Preparedness Grants
for nine federal programs. The Transit Security Grant Program was to receive $253.4 million, plus an additional $150
million provided through the first and second American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding provisions. Also
included in the total of $790 million was $20 million to
Amtrak; $14.5 million to the Freight Rail Security Grant
Program for critical freight infrastructure projects centered
on transportation of hazardous materials; and $11.5 for the
Intercity Bus Security Grant Program, which is available to
fixed-route intercity and charter bus companies for security
planning, facility upgrades, and vehicle and driver protection. Other funds are allocated to other areas of transportation infrastructure, including ports and terminals (Kronfeld
2010). Despite these large amounts of available money,
politicians and the DHS’s own Office of the Inspector General have consistently urged DHS to expand its effectiveness in the area of mass transit and passenger rail. A recent
report, though, focused primarily on nonmonetary aid
(Chunovic 2010).
Reinforcing the close ties between terrorism prevention
and detection and risk management, DHS disburses funds
only to agencies that have relied on its mandated methodology to complete a risk assessment. This requirement has
resulted in a number of agencies that previously had not
completed risk assessments undertaking them to be eligible
to apply for funds. Basic eligibility to compete for funds is
based on the Urban Areas Security Initiative list and the
National Transit Database; eligible applicants are listed as
part of the annual guidance published to assist agencies in
completing the requests. DHS has further divided agencies
into two tiers. Tier I is composed of transit agencies in the
eight highest-risk urban areas as determined by DHS; Tier
II consists of all other eligible transit agencies. Agencies are
effectively competing against one another. Applications are
evaluated by panels composed of federal employees who
score the projects based on a number of criteria, including
the agency’s risk group score, the project’s effectiveness
group score, the project’s potential for risk mitigation (which
includes cost-effectiveness, feasibility, timeliness, and sustainability), regional collaboration if required, and the agency’s offering of a cost share. Projects are ranked and funded
in order until the funds are exhausted. All information and
forms are available on the DHS website, as is information on
Tier I-eligible agencies, the allocations for each Tier I area,
and designation of Tier II areas and eligible agencies.
Some agencies are in more competitive areas than others. MBTA and MARTA, for instance, are the only Tier I
agencies in their states. Although ACE, a case study agency,
is part of the San Francisco Bay Area Tier I, it competes
for funds in that group ($19,873,038 in FY 2010) with much
larger, higher profile agencies in the Bay Area’s Regional
Transit Security Working Group. All other case study agencies are designated as Tier II.
Funding issues explored by this synthesis centered on
purchase. The synthesis did not pursue costs and issues
pertaining to the operation or maintenance of surveillance
cameras, including the related costs of hardware or software
that are required to maintain the surveillance system in an
operational state. These costs are considerable and insufficient maintenance of an existing surveillance system can
contribute to negative publicity about an agency and may
influence how claims of loss or injury are adjudicated either
by internal claims officers or by courts. Technical studies of
the actual operations of surveillance systems by rail agencies might assist them in determining whether their initial
purchases are being supported internally by policies and
procedures that maintain the equipment properly. These
studies might also consider how internal decisions impact
the effectiveness of the video surveillance system and the
transit system overall.
Decisions about where to install cameras are influenced by
an agency’s goals, available funding, and, sometimes, concerns of the political entity to which the agency is linked.
Intertwined in each or all of these decisions is the perceived
effectiveness of the surveillance network. Although effectiveness might be difficult to define in the context of these
overlapping but possibly contradictory goals, agencies were
asked to indicate how effective their surveillance systems
were in achieving a number of goals. The two major reasons
for employing video surveillance monitoring of locations
were for crime/vandalism prevention and accident investigation. Respondents could select as many or as few of the
choices that pertained to their agency (Table 10)
Crime/Vandalism Prevention
Fare Collection View/Dispute Mediation
Other Complaint Resolution
Accident Investigation
Employee Monitoring
Again using a five-point scale, agencies were given a list
of the most common purposes of a video surveillance system and asked to rate from most effective to least effective
whether they believed this goal was met on their system.
Table 11 indicates the number of times an agency listed a
reason as most effective and the number of times it was rated
as least effective.
Most Effective
Least Effective
Crime Prevention/
Fare Collection/Dispute
Other Complaint
Accident Investigation
Employee Monitoring
The perceived effectiveness of a video surveillance system can depend on a number of administrative issues beyond
purchase, installation, and maintenance of the equipment
itself. Transit systems need to address many operational
issues when considering upgrading an existing surveillance
system or installing a new one. Survey respondents provided
information on how a number of these are addressed, including policies on monitoring, recording, and archiving images,
and whether patrons and/or employees are notified of the
presence of video surveillance technology.
As the number of cameras increases, questions have arisen
as to whether they will be monitored in real time (someone watching the cameras as things are happening) or
will be viewed after the fact (looking at images after an
incident occurred). A related decision is who will monitor
the cameras and for what hours whoever is assigned will
view them.
The times that video cameras are monitored differed
considerably. Twenty-two agencies indicated their cameras
were monitored at all times (24 hours a day, 7 days a week),
and six reported that cameras were never monitored. Eight
responded that cameras were viewed only during hours of
transit operations, while 11 indicated they used a configuration that was not easily summarized but met their agencies’
needs (Table 12).
When Monitored
24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week
During Hours of Service Only
Another Configuration
Not Viewed
Note: Two agencies checked multiple responses.
Although some agencies checked multiple responses,
making it difficult to fully interpret the responses, the largest number of agencies indicated that their cameras are under
constant monitoring and the smallest number indicated that
the cameras are not viewed at all in real time. The six agencies that reported that cameras were never monitored in real
time stated that the decision was based on the cost involved
in having personnel assigned to this function, although two
also indicated that other unspecified factors played a role in
their decisions.
Once an agency decides that cameras will be monitored, it
must decide who will monitor them (Table 13). Although the
synthesis did not delve into many areas of personnel decisionmaking, such as whether labor agreements were a factor, the
agencies that reported that cameras were not viewed listed
cost as the major reason for this decision. In most agencies,
rail operations personnel are assigned to monitor system
operation during all hours train are running and sometimes
even when they are not. Because cameras serve a number of
non-law enforcement purposes, having rail operations personnel monitor video systems is consistent with the camera’s
overall roles in safe operations of the rail network. On other
systems, where there is a full-service 24/7 police agency that
monitors emergency telephones and responds to incidents on
the transit system, having those individuals monitor the surveillance network is also consistent with their roles.
Who Monitors
Police/Security Personnel
Rail Operations Personnel
Note: Not all agencies responded.
Without more information, for instance, whether union
agreements played a role in the decision, whether the initial
purpose of the video system played a role in the decision,
or whether existing communications networks were used
to activate the surveillance system, it is difficult to generalize as to how a combined network came to be the preferred
method. Recalling that the earliest federal report noted that
transit policing was established by 1979, it may simply stem
from the initial view of surveillance as primarily a patron
traffic control and rail operations tool rather than a law
enforcement tool. It may also simply reflect a continuation
of past practices.
Many of the questions pertaining to the technological features of an agency’s surveillance system did not receive
replies or received replies that were internally inconsistent. As with all questionnaires, it is difficult to determine
why some questions are answered and others are not. Many
respondents were vague about when surveillance was introduced on their system. This, in combination with the few
responses to a request to provide the name of the surveillance vendor, supports a tentative conclusion that managers
responsible for daily operation of the surveillance system are
less interested in the technical specifications of their systems
than in its day-to-day use and reliability. With this caveat, it
can only be stated that most agencies rely on digital rather
than analog systems, and that more than a third described
their surveillance systems as combined or in transition from
analog to digital.
Particularly given the current attention paid to video
analytics, most of the existing surveillance systems were
described by respondents as having what today would be
considered relatively low-tech features (Table 14).
Special Feature
24-hour Recording
Auto Emergency Digital
Secondary Power Source
Low Light Resolution
As video surveillance has proliferated two new issues have
emerged: perception overload and the expanded use of sensors in conjunction with cameras or as stand-alone tools to
protect vital areas. Both rely on advanced technology that
a number of agencies are introducing into their video surveillance networks. Even in agencies that assign personnel
to monitor images in real time, the rise in interest in video
analytics is based on the realization that most surveillance
systems produce far more images than it is possible for viewers to absorb. The use of video analytics (“smart” or “intel-
ligent” video) attempts to provide a solution. At its most
simple, smart video can be defined as video that thinks for
you. It not only collects data, but is capable of analyzing the
data; for instance, in addition to merely filming individuals
on a crowded platform, smart video would identify and focus
on persons who act suspiciously and would alert those in the
viewing room to turn their attention to the monitor displaying this particular action.
rail to a sporting event. Furthermore, even before such systems have become common, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a warning that terrorists may be one step
ahead of smart video. A jihad-advocating website reportedly
suggested that adherents leave suspicious bags around New
York and Washington, D.C., to desensitize first responders
by forcing them to respond to suspicious but harmless items
left in public areas (Weiss and Mangan 2010).
Scientists who are studying it and vendors who are marketing it refer to smart video as the next-generation of electronic video systems. Such systems rely on algorithms to
profile behavior based on how people usually behave in certain environments and then picking out those whose behavior is different from others or inappropriate for the location
or situation. These systems take into consideration changes
in lighting conditions, an important factor for rail facilities
and parking locations, and can track people as they move
from one camera to the next.
NJT has used federal DHS funds to install a system that
is programmed to alert those who monitor the video when
a suspicious activity has occurred. In a station, this might
be a bag left unattended or in a particular location. Along
the ROW, it might be a boat docked under a bridge (Hecker
2006). Also in conjunction with DHS, MTA-MD has been
developing a smart video system in the Baltimore subway
system, light rail stations, and in Maryland commuter trains
(Nakanishi 2009, p. 23). St. Louis’ MetroLink combines
tunnel intrusion with analytics to monitor its tracks and
tunnel. The intrusion sensors indicate activity in the area
while the analytics are able to determine whether the intrusion is authorized or not (Resnick 2009). Boston’s MBTA is
using smart video elements in its recently updated camera
network, particularly in and around tunnels. Smart video is
also a large component of the National Capital Region Rail
Pilot Program involving Amtrak, as discussed in Chapter
three. The use of analytics is also a feature of the surveillance systems of two case study agencies, Metro Transit and
Valley Metro (see chapter five).
Understanding and Using Analytics
Video analytic systems analyze data to improve tracking.
They are programmed based on what people can be anticipated to do. If normal behavior can be anticipated, abnormal
behavior can be made to stand out. For instance, to track an
individual at an airport, the system is provided with information on the routes people are likely to take. The system
understands and absorbs that most people go from the airport entrance directly to the ticket check-in area, most likely
then to check the flight information board, and from there to
security checkpoints. Because it is designed to detect behavior that differs from the norm, the analytic-based system is
intended to pick up someone who follows no logical pattern through the facility. This could be someone who stops
and then starts moving again in an erratic pattern. It could
be someone who seems to linger in front of doors that are
alarmed or marked “employees only,” suggesting that the
person might be considering whether it is possible to enter
without detection.
Although some transit agencies are making use of video
analytics, introducing smart video into the rail environment
presents a number of challenges. The major challenge is
anticipating patterned behavior. This is more difficult in a
transit facility than at an airport, where the most people are
boarding or alighting from a plane. At a large urban transit
facility, people may be shopping, walking through the station
to avoid city streets in bad weather, dining at one of the facility’s sit-down or fast-food restaurants, or doing any number
of things that do not involve taking a train. This is less likely
to occur at a small, suburban light rail station, where virtually all those on the platform are apt to be waiting for a train,
but patterns may still be different if the Monday-to-Friday
crowd is primarily commuters carrying only briefcases and
the evening or weekend crowd is made up of families taking
Distinguishing the Usual from the Unusual
Because of the greater focus on airport security than rail
security, a demonstration of smart video in late 2009 at
airports in the United Kingdom used footage obtained at
Heathrow International Airport, where a group of scientists said their prototype identified potential threats that
human operators would have missed (Fleming 2009). In a
study conducted among Florida transit agencies, Dmitry B.
Goldgof and colleagues (2009) found that few agencies were
knowledgeable about analytics. The study also referred to a
number of drawbacks, including an analytic system’s vulnerability to environmental variables such as detrimental lighting conditions and weather, both of which may lead to false
alarms that could become a source of frustration for the user.
Another drawback, particularly in environments where not
all activities can be anticipated, was that to properly program
an analytic system, events need to be predefined; events that
have not been defined will not be detected (p. vi).
Announcements on breakthroughs in the area of analytic software appear regularly in the security and technology trade press, which makes it difficult for operations
managers to keep up with the changing technology. For
instance, in the first 2 weeks of June 2010, researchers
announced that a computer vision system that was not yet
ready for commercial use could provide a live text description of video images to alleviate some of the time and labor
of searching though video or image collections. Another
set of researchers announced the development of software
that would also save time and tedium by summarizing a
whole day’s video in a few-minutes-long synopsis. In the
same period, DHS announced a pilot project in conjunction
with the Massachusetts Port Authority to test a system at
one terminal of Boston’s Logan Airport that puts together
a number of cameras to provide a 360-degree wide view
and can analyze images with sufficient detail to scan for
abnormal activity and for suspicious items left behind or
removed (Beauge 2010; “Hebrew University Invention …”
2010; Simonite 2010).
As with the use of surveillance cameras along the ROW
and of sensors in conjunction with existing or upgraded
video surveillance networks, analytics is a relatively new
technology that will undoubtedly receive more attention
from transit agencies as it becomes more readily available
and as funds become available for additional research and
Agency policies on archiving, retaining, and accessing surveillance system images differ considerably. A majority of
agencies (35 of 42 respondents) archive the images from their
video surveillance systems, but differences exist in the length
of time images are retained. In some cases, this has to do with
state laws; Florida, for instance, mandates that images from
surveillance systems be retained for at least 1 month.
Archiving images is only one of a series of decisions that
need to be made about surveillance systems. Overall, retention ranged from none at all unless something exceptional
was observed or reported to more than a year, including up
to 3 years in one agency. Access to images is another important policy area with organizational and legal ramifications.
Although most agencies indicated that only “designated
individuals” could access images, the definitions of these
individuals were was not consistent.
But despite the differences in policies, certain generalizations are appropriate. In all agencies with their own
police departments, police may access the images, although
in some agencies access for forensic investigation may be
limited to detectives/investigators or supervisory staff members. Agencies with security departments, rather than fully
empowered police departments, are more likely to limit
access to supervisory personnel. When the security staff is
supplied by an outside contractor, only high-level supervisors or agency employees who manage the security staff are
likely to be authorized to access images.
Among others listed were risk assessment staff, safety and
claims managers, facilities managers, legal counsel, and a
variety of rail operations personnel, often in the last instance
limited to supervisory personnel. A number of agencies
chose not to answer this question. Although it is difficult to
interpret this lack of response, it may merely indicate that
the person who completed the form is not involved in this
area of administrative decision-making. If this presumption
is accurate, it indicates a need for policy coordination among
all those with responsibility for use and maintenance of the
video surveillance system.
An area related to who may access images is what procedures exist to ensure that only those designated with the
authority actually have access. To address this area, the survey asked a question on procedures that were used to maintain a record of access (often referred to by law enforcement
personnel as the chain of custody). Of the 32 agencies that
indicated they permitted only designated individuals to
access images, 10 had specific sign in/sign out procedures.
Five agencies said that designated individuals were required
to access the records only with another person present, and
five indicated another control mechanism such as writing
in a log. Though “only designated individuals” is likely to
be sufficient for internal review, it can be anticipated that
particularly in a criminal court case, a more formal sign in/
sign out policy will be required to meet chain of custody
requirements. Last, there is the question of public access. Of
the 41 agencies that answered the question on public access
policies, 17 indicated they had none.
The issues of the length of time images are retained, who
may access them, and developing a formal mechanism to
track access appears to be a fruitful topic for discussion at
professional association meetings. Agencies with more formal policies that have had experience relying on their images
might share information with less experienced agencies.
The importance of policy development surrounding use of
surveillance images is directly related to its use as a forensic
tool in both criminal and tort (civil) prosecutions. If agencies
intend to offer images as evidence in court and in formal
internal disciplinary matters, they will be asked to describe
how the images are safeguarded, how they are labeled as to
location and time, and what chain of custody policies ensure
that the images are not tampered with and are actually the
ones on which charges were based.
Use of images for criminal or civil prosecutions is common. Thirty-seven agencies indicated that either their own
police or local police used images from their surveillance
cameras in court cases. This is a large increase over Maier
and Malone’s 2001 finding that 10 of 19 agencies had used
recordings from their surveillance systems as evidence
in court. The increase can be attributed to higher quality
images being available from upgraded camera networks and
also to courts having become more accustomed to accepting
video images as evidence.
The media tend to be intrigued by video evidence. Cases
in which it plays a role are frequently publicized widely
in local newspapers and on television stations, where the
video image is often shown frequently on news programs.
Two typical examples include a 2006 arrest made in conjunction with a stabbing that occurred on a GCRTA trolley
after the assailant was identified based on video images. At
the time, GCRTA said that videos were not viewed in real
time at its command center but that drivers were trained
to activate the onboard system when an incident occurred
to ensure that the data was recorded over (Gural 2006). In
a similar incident, in 2009, video cameras in place on an
MBTA bus led to the arrest of five people who were charged
with assault with a dangerous weapon (Irons 2009). In Philadelphia, police were able to arrest a suspect who is alleged
to have attacked a SEPTA passenger with a hammer.
Although other passengers ignored the assault, the suspect
was later identified after surveillance video that aired on
local television resulted in his identification (“Philadelphia
Police Make Arrest…” 2008).
In addition to indicating that video had assisting in criminal prosecutions, almost as many agencies (32) reported that
they had used images from their surveillance systems as
evidence in employee disciplinary actions. The two questions may or may not be related, but of the 39 agencies that
reported whether they had seen a reduction in fraud/injury
claims based on their surveillance systems, 25 answered yes
and 14 answered no. Fraudulent claims may come from a
number of sources other than employees, such as “ghost riders” and individuals who claim to have lost items or been
injured in some way on the agency’s property.
The relationship between surveillance evidence in disciplinary actions that result in a reduction of internal fraud/
injury claims appears to be fruitful area of further study.
A better understanding of whether there is a relationship
between the presence of surveillance cameras and employee
fraud and/or discipline would be of particular value because
the issue of cameras in operator/cab areas has become a
prominent and controversial one and is likely to become a
labor/management negotiating issue.
As surveillance systems proliferate in public areas, many
civil liberties groups have filed or have indicated they are
planning to file lawsuits surrounding this. A review of existing laws, pending litigation, and any existing model policies
in these areas would provide guidance to transit agencies and
could preclude costly and time-consuming litigation.
The vast majority of agencies (31 of 41) notify patrons that
surveillance cameras are in use. As with record/image retention, whether to notify patrons of the presence of surveillance
cameras may be strictly an administrative decision or may be
based on state regulations. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in
1967 in Katz vs. United States (389 U.S. 347) that there is no
reasonable presumption of privacy in a public place. Following
the reasoning of United States vs. Knotts (368 U.S. 276) in 1983
that persons traveling on public thoroughfares had no reasonable expectation of privacy, the same applies to transit facilities.
In addition to meeting legal or regulatory obligations
to provide signage or other notification, such as periodic
announcements on the use of video, signage indicating the
presence of video surveillance has been seen by many agencies as a way to enhance patron’s perception of safety and
security. In providing examples of the signage used by a
number of transit agencies, Maier and Malone (2001) noted
that most include phrases such as “for your protection,”
“for your safety,” for your safety and security,” or “for your
safety and comfort.” Others simply stated that the vehicle
was equipped with cameras or that cameras may be onboard
(p. 26). Maier and Malone noted that many agencies used the
words “may be recorded” rather than “is recorded” because
the latter implies that cameras are always operating, which
may not be accurate. This may raise legal issues if something were to occur at a time when the cameras were not
in operation. Similarly, if signage implies that cameras are
monitored, patrons may mistakenly believe that if they have
a problem, it is being viewed in real time and that someone
will be dispatched to help them.
Patron perception surveys could assist agencies in learning more about whether the existence of surveillance systems leads to less fear among riders. Surveys could also help
to determine whether existing signage is properly understood by riders and others making use of transit facilities,
yet relatively few agencies report having measured patron
perceptions of security since surveillance was installed. A
few who had not measured it said it had existed since the
beginning of revenue operations and believed their patrons
would not be able to make any comparison with how they felt
without surveillance. Of the 32 agencies that answered, 12
had measured patron perceptions through surveys or other
instruments; 11 of these stated that patrons reported feeling
a higher sense of security (Table 15).
Measured patron perceptions since
surveillance was installed
Patrons indicate a higher sense of
Note: Figures total 41 responses; two agencies did not respond.
N/A = not available.
Only nine agencies had measured employee perceptions
of security since the installation of video surveillance technology. Similar to patrons, some employees have worked
where such equipment has always existed, which would
make it difficult to determine how effective a measure it is
of their feelings of security at their work sites or, on the other
hand, whether they believe it is there solely to monitor their
productivity or adherence to work rules. All of the agencies
that had measured employee perceptions said that employees reported a higher sense of security. Agencies were also
asked whether unions or employee representatives had been
consulted in the decision to install surveillance technology;
of the 31 replies, 22 said no and 19 said yes. On a transit system where virtually all operating employees are unionized,
MBTA has included unions and employee organizations in
its decision to install surveillance technology, which is used
onboard vehicles only in passenger areas. An interesting
area of study would be whether older systems or those whose
employees are covered by union agreements are more likely
to consult with employee representatives. Also, newer systems that included surveillance as part of their initial planning may not have a need to consult with employees because
utilization of surveillance does not represent any change in
working conditions.
Quantitative data can be useful for agencies to compare
their own practices with those of other agencies. Qualitative information, which is generally provided in a narrative format that makes it easy to highlight details and
point out lessons learned, can also help agencies to learn
from others. Chapter five provides case studies to assist
transit professionals who have been and will continue to
make decisions on the purchase and use of surveillance
systems by comparing their own situations with those of
other transit systems.
Five case studies were developed to explore various aspects
of how systems integrate or expand existing electronic video
surveillance into their operations. The case studies provide
descriptions of actual decisions that agencies are faced with
in planning for installation of video on their rail systems, and
attempt to fill a paucity of data on such matters by describing
how specific agencies have addressed these and related issues.
The case studies are also intended as catalysts for additional
research and for discussions among transit agencies to learn
from each other. Quantitative research provides a broad overview of industry practices but single-site reportage can more
fully address particular aspects of a problem. Formal discussions can highlight recurring problems and successes, and
informal discussions among agency managers can provide a
forum where missteps are more likely to be shared with the
goal of saving others from making similar miscalculations.
Case studies are intended to combine these elements by sharing experiences of specific agencies to assist others in better
articulating the needs of their own transit systems. The transit
agencies represented are varied enough that almost all systems
can take something from them that can be transferred to other
venues. The agencies provide geographic, size, and system type
balance. They were selected with the goal of providing ideas
that everyone can use—some to a greater degree than others—but containing best practices or things to avoid that have
a certain universality. The aim is to share information and help
to educate transit agencies considering enhancing their video
surveillance systems by helping them make informed decisions
based on learning from what others have learned. To facilitate
making the maximum use of the case studies, each one begins
with an overview of the transit agency and its policing/security
configuration in order to place the ways in which video surveillance is used and monitored into the larger context of the agencies’ overall security goals and protection strategies.
Description of the Transit System
The Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) began providing
commuter rail service between San Joaquin, Alameda, and
Santa Clara counties in California in 1998, with service
provided between the cities of Stockton and San Jose. The
system, which is managed by the San Joaquin Regional
Rail Commission, comprises 86 route miles and includes
10 stations serviced by 6 locomotives and 24 Bombardier
bi-level rail cars, each category of which averaged about 9
years of service in 2009. Railcars include 110-volt AC outlets, restrooms in every car, and a bicycle car. There are
bicycle lockers at every station except Fremont. Plans to
introduce onboard Internet service were suspended in mid2009 as a result of economic constraints. The annual ridership is 797,224; annual operating costs are $16.2 million,
and annual capital costs are $69 million. According to the
Bay Rail Alliance, ACE would like to add service but is constrained by the amount of freight traffic because the rails on
which ACE operates are owned by the UPRR.
Security Organization and Personnel
ACE has no dedicated law enforcement agency and does
not directly employ any police officers from the local police
departments whose jurisdictions it travels through. Two stations fall within the same policing jurisdiction; the others
each fall within a different agency’s territory. In addition,
Amtrak police and UPRR police also have jurisdiction,
requiring ACE to coordinate its law enforcement efforts
with nine separate police departments. This is in reality a
minimum number, as the rail system overlaps two of the
UPRR police districts and also falls within two separate
TSA districts (Oakland and San Jose).
W hile these somewhat complicated arrangements could
present problems with either over- or under-enforcement,
ACE has built personal relationships with each department.
Transit managers believe that the system and its passengers
receive adequate police coverage. Officers from the local
departments ride the trains and are encouraged to patrol
parking areas and to make use of station facilities as a way
to increase uniformed police presence. In addition, local and
railroad police use a recently constructed security kiosk at
ACE headquarters as a substation to augment coverage provided by ACE’s facility watchman. Wi-Fi is available for first
responders to use at the kiosk. In addition, ACE provides a
small conference table, chairs, water, and coffee to encourage law enforcement officers to use the kiosk, enhancing
the agency’s partnerships and providing high visibility at
ACE headquarters. Information not publicly available was
provided for the case study by Steven Walker, Safety and
Security Coordinator.
of the funding priorities. In 2009, a total of $28 million was
set aside for the entire region.
Current and Future Upgrades
Original Video Surveillance System
ACE initially installed surveillance equipment in 1999 in a
number of stations, station platforms, shelters, and parking
facilities. ACE is one of the few agencies surveyed that uses
onboard cameras in both passenger and operator/cab areas.
At the time of the survey, between 80% and 90% of its heavy
rail vehicles had onboard surveillance but only three stations
(30%) were covered by video cameras.
ACE was able to expand its use of video surveillance in
late 2005, when it awarded a contract to A4S Security to
install its ShiftWatch® Transportation Video Surveillance
system on its trains. The contract called for a minimum of
four cameras on each railcar to be set up so that passengers
would be recorded as they entered and exited the trains.
This earlier installation of cameras was funded through an
$800,000 DHS grant that was part of a $7.1 million allocation for public transit in the Bay Area and San Joaquin
County. The cameras were tied into a wireless Internet connection to make the images accessible to police. Additional
enhancements included a GPS-type tracking system to permit ACE officials to monitor the location of each train and
a radio system that would allow transit agencies to communicate directly without having to filter their conversations
through local law enforcement agencies (Sherbert 2005).
Although ACE had received several small grants since
2007, there is a lag time between when the grant is awarded
and when the money becomes available. Also, the grant
“sunsets,” meaning that it must be used within a certain
amount of time after it is received. The grant may be used
only for purchase and for the maintenance warrantee. For a
relatively small agency such as ACE, with no police force
and only a small number of other specialists, an important
factor in deciding whether to upgrade the surveillance network is the recurring cost of running it.
In addition to the difficulties that many transit agencies
face in being able to anticipate receiving funds from DHS,
ACE is faced with additional question marks. It is the smallest rail agency in the DHS’s Bay Area Regional Transit Security Working Group Tier I area. Other bus, rail, and bus/rail
systems in this area include two much larger transit systems,
BART and San Francisco’s Municipal Railway; the Golden
Gate Bridge; Valley Transportation Authority; and Alameda
County Transit. The request for funds by all these agencies
consistently exceeds the funds allocated to the region. The
allocation of funds within a region depends on a number of
issues but because ACE has lower ridership than the larger
systems and is not perceived to the same degree as the others
as a potential terrorism target, it rarely finds itself at the top
In 2009 ACE received about $500,000 to install a video
surveillance system at six of its station platform areas and
parking lots as well as in its Robert J. Cabral Station headquarters. About half the funds came from an FTA grant, the
rest was from California state funds derived from the passage of Proposition 1B. This case study describes the steps
involved in preparing a request for proposal (RFP) to design
the system, selecting a vendor, and working with the other
rail agencies with which ACE shares jurisdiction at its stations and along its ROW. It is an example of the timeframes
and issues involved in managing even a fairly small grant
involving installation or enhancement of a video surveillance system.
The Rail Commission was notified in February 2009 that
its request for funds had been approved. In late July, an RFP
to design the system was released; 21 firms responded to
the online solicitation, 9 eventually submitted proposals. An
August 2009 pre-bid walk-though of the Cabral, LathropManteca, Tracy, Vasco, Livermore, and Pleasanton stations
was arranged. Ultimately, four of the nine teams were invited
to the interview process. On October 2, 2009, the ACE Board
approved the hiring of TRC Solutions, Inc., of Irvine, California, to design the system. An RFP for the installation is
anticipated to be released during the third quarter of 2010
and ACE anticipates that the equipment will be operational
by the first quarter of 2011.
Although the system is not yet operable, planning for
it began even before receipt of the grant. One of the first
decisions made by ACE was which of its stations to include
in its grant proposal. Because ACE works with such a large
number of municipalities and has small safety and security staffs, a number of local cities, including Stockton,
Ripon, and Los Banos, were contacted to help research
what would work best in each area. Decisions included,
for instance, whether to purchase a wireless or a hardwired system. Recurring budget allocations and the quality of the video images played a role in what technology
ACE decided on. The system was designed to be scalable
to work with fiber-optics in the future, which means that
the current system will provide all identified needs at an
affordable price. However, ACE believes that when fiberoptics become available, its system will function at a significantly lower cost. Finally, of the six stations selected,
three will receive surveillance enhancements and three
will be receiving video surveillance technology for the
first time. ACE’s original decision was based on stations
where ACE had sole service, but Walker worked closely
with Amtrak, with which ACE shares Fremont Centerville
and Santa Clara Great America stations.
At the time of the case study in summer 2010, ACE was
working on a new grant proposal that was effectively phase
2; specifically, a request to add surveillance at two more stations. To date, ACE has received approval for an additional
$300,000 from a FY 2010 Transit Grant Security Program
grant that will be used to fund a continuation of the surveillance system and the Freemont Centerville and Santa Clara
Great America stations. Although Amtrak owns the platforms at both stations, ACE will fund all of the Fremont Centerville platform and parking facility system costs but only
the parking facility at the Santa Clara Great America Station, where Amtrak will assume the platform costs. Because
this is a shared project in relation to both funding and use,
ensuring equipment interoperability played a large role in
the plans for both stations. As designed and offered out for
bidding, ACE will be able to view Amtrak’s system and
Amtrak will be able to view ACE’s system. First responders
will be able to view everything at all stations.
In addition to working closely with Amtrak and the local
communities it serves, ACE also used outside expertise. The
system was designed by a consultant who also wrote the
RFP and continued to assist the agency after the contract
was awarded to TRC, a California firm, based in large part,
according to Walker, not only on the firm’s understanding
of the technical requirements of the new project but also on
its ability to work with the existing infrastructure and, most
important, the issue of recurring budget concerns. Even with
this high level of cooperation and understanding, including
regular progress reports, the timeline for the work was longer than originally established. TRC, though, was able to
explain why some deadlines originally slipped and were able
to stay within the budget.
Despite working closely with its many local and railroad partners, ACE had considered requesting funding for
ROW cameras but was unable to develop a partnership with
UPRR. Even without the inclusion of ROW surveillance,
ACE anticipates that when the work is completed during the
first quarter of 2011 it will have a fully functional security
surveillance system in place. In addition to stations, the system will cover all employee areas, IT areas, lobby, customer
service, bus lanes, and counting room areas. It represents
upgrading in a number of areas. For instance, although
the existing system recorded on a 24-hour basis, it was not
viewed in real time and provided a record of events only. The
new system will be monitored from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday, by a combined staff of operations center personnel and agency security staff. Hours beyond those will
be monitored by the ACE facility watchman and contract
security officers in the ACE Operations Monitoring Center.
Additionally, because ACE relies on a large number of local
police departments, each will have viewing ability but none
will have camera control authority, which will remain solely
within the agency.
Lessons Learned
Although in amount of money and time, this case study
reports on what would be considered a small upgrade of a
surveillance system, to ACE the upgrading required working closely with a large number of partners and will cause
a number of internal administrative changes. Under present policies, images were retained for 5 days; under the new
system, which will provide a higher quality video image, the
images will be retained for 10 days. After formulating new
procedures, ACE has decided that the video images will be
accessible only to the safety and security coordinator and
to IT personnel. A new policy on chain of custody is also
anticipated, more clearly delineating those who are considered authorized personnel.
These administrative changes reinforce that surveillance
hardware purchases, regardless of the funding sources for
upgrading or retrofitting are obtained, require that an agency
give advance consideration to how the new network will
affect its day-to-day operations and what personnel decisions, and policies and procedures will require creation or
revision to complement the new system.
Description of the Transit System
Metro Transit is a multimodal system that provides bus, light
rail, and commuter rail service to the Minneapolis–St. Paul
(Twin Cities) metropolitan area. The Hiawatha Line introduced light rail service in 2004; it covers 12 route miles and
19 stations, including downtown Minneapolis, the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, and the Mall of
America in Bloomington, Minnesota, the largest shopping
mall in the United States. Fifteen stations are at-grade, three
are elevated, and one is underground. The route includes a
1.6-mile tunnel under the airport. The 15 grade crossings
are equipped with warning equipment but not with video
Trains run in two-car and three-car consists; vehicles
are articulated, designed for 66 seated passengers and 187
passengers at full capacity, and are equipped with luggage
racks and bicycle storage hangers. Vehicles are bidirectional
and are powered by 750 VDC from overhead power lines.
Traction power substations are operated automatically from
the Hiawatha Rail Control Center. Regular service hours are
from 3:40 a.m. to 2:25 a.m.; rush-hour headway is 7.5 minutes. In addition to regular service, airport shuttle service is
provided between the two airport terminals; headways are
10 minutes. Traveling the entire line one way takes approximately 36 minutes.
In late 2009, Metro Transit opened its Northstar line, a
40-mile, six-station commuter rail line that operates with
5 locomotives and 18 refurbished passenger cars traveling
on BNSF tracks from downtown Minneapolis to Big Lake,
Minnesota. Through a perpetual easement agreement with
BNSF, Northstar operates 12 trains on weekdays and 6 on
weekends and holidays, with provisions for numerous special
events trains annually. Northstar connects to the Hiawatha
LRT through a four-block extension of the light rail line to
reach the downtown Minneapolis commuter rail station.
With the exception of the downtown station, all Northstar
stations have park-and-ride facilities.
Metro Transit contracts with BNSF for operations and
train control. Policing is the responsibility of the Metro Transit Police Department in conjunction with local departments
along the alignment. There is video surveillance at the commuter rail platforms and in the parking lots. There are also
cameras onboard the railcars recording the passenger areas
as well as forward-looking cameras in each locomotive and
cab car. None of these cameras are monitored in real time
nor are there plans to monitor them in the immediate future.
rity and Police Services, reports directly to the general manager. Information not publicly available was provided for the
case study by A.J. Olson, Deputy Chief of Police.
Hiawatha’s Original Video Surveillance System
Despite opening for revenue service with a well-designed
video surveillance system, Metro Transit has been upgrading its system almost since its inception. The initial system
was based on almost 130 cameras that were installed at the
17 original stations and two parking lots. The at-grade and
elevated stations have canopies and windscreens and overhead radiant heaters. Each station is furnished with emergency call boxes, maps, information kiosks, public art, and
benches. Fare collection is a self-service, barrier-free proof
of payment system that is checked periodically by Metro
Transit police officers. Each station, with the exception of
large facilities (i.e., Mall of America, Lindbergh Airport
Terminal, and Lake Street Station) was designed with four
cameras per station. Cameras also monitored the portals into
the tunnels on S. Hiawatha and Minnehaha and at the airport.
With the exception of one pan-tilt-zoom camera (Figure 5) at
Fort Snelling, all others were fixed-position cameras.
Planning is also under way for the Central Corridor, a second light rail line that will provide service between downtown
Minneapolis and downtown St Paul, traveling primarily in a
median of University Avenue, and providing service to the
University of Minnesota. The FTA announced approval of
funding of this extension in April 2011. The 11-mile Central
Corridor will share five stations and 1.2 miles of track with
the existing Hiawatha line. New construction will include 15
stations and about 10 miles of track. Plans for electronic video
surveillance include covering station areas where TVMs are
located, portions of platforms, and all skyways and tunnels.
Cameras will be installed in all LRVs, but not in parking lots.
As with the existing system, it is not anticipated that cameras
will be monitored in real time.
Security Organization and Personnel
Metro Transit’s police department is in transition. Currently,
it is an unusual combination of a fully accredited in-agency
police department and part-time officers from other agencies. The police department was formed in 1993 after receiving legislative approval. For almost a decade, it employed
only supervisors who oversaw about 175 local police officers
who worked part-time for the transit system while working
full-time for their home departments.
In 2002 the agency decided to convert to a traditional,
full-time transit police department made up of officers
employed solely by Metro Transit. The department now
employs about 70 full-time Metro Transit officers and about
50 part-time officers from other departments who continue
to work a number of tours of duty on the rail line. Chief
David H. Indrehus, whose official title is Director of Secu-
FIGURE 5 Fixed cameras (top) are being replaced with
pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras (bottom). PTZ cameras provide
greater surveillance coverage because they can pan (move left
and right), tilt (move up and down), and zoom in or out. Photos
courtesy of Metro Transit Police.
Each LRV was equipped with four onboard cameras for
digital recording but without audio capability. Other emergency and communication systems include a Supervisory
Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA) to monitor
train location, track, systems, and alarms, and a radio system
that is compatible with regional emergency services radio
networks. Radio service is available on the LRVs; at the Rail
Control Center; and through rail supervisors, maintenance
personnel, and police personnel.
All camera feeds were initially routed to the Rail Control Center, located at the Rail Operations and Maintenance
building through fiber-optic cables for recording on eight
VHS tape decks with 16 cameras recorded on each tape with
the use of a multiplexer. This was found to be unsatisfactory
because it resulted in extremely slow frame rates on each
camera (more that 1 or 2 seconds between frames), which
resulted in the loss of a great deal of video evidence as the
multiplexer scrolled through its assigned cameras. In addition, the four onboard cameras were recorded only on the
vehicle; they lacked remote viewing capability. This created
inefficient retrieval of video because the hard drive had to
be removed from the vehicle and manually downloaded for
viewing. The cameras also lacked the resolution to identify
individuals well enough to be considered forensic tools; specifically, identifications were not clear enough to be used to
positively identify a suspect’s image.
Attempts to solve these problems led to system upgrades
in 2005–2006. At that time, camera lenses were upgraded to
“auto-iris” lenses, which improved video quality in all lighting conditions by automatically adjusting to available light
rather than having to predetermine a setting that compromised between ideal day and night settings. A year later, in
2006–2007, two of the four fixed cameras at each platform
were replaced with pan-tilt-zoom cameras.
In 2007, DHS TSGP funding led to a major upgrade to
a digital, server-based system. This allowed for continuous
recording of all cameras with adjustable frame rates; images
per second were increased to ten IPS to eliminate loss of
video, which also improved image quality significantly and
made the review and retrieval of video less time-consuming.
About 3 years ago, Metro Transit became one of the first
transit agencies to incorporate video analytics into its surveillance network, installing it at tunnel portals to supplement its intrusion detection system. The video analytics were
purchased with DHS TSGP funding as part of the project to
implement the digital, server-based video recording system.
The analytics are designed to “recognize” rail vehicles and
allow them to pass without notice. However, if something
else accesses the portal, including pedestrians, animals, or a
vehicle of another configuration, or even garbage blown by
the wind, the video monitor above the rail control supervisor’s console will immediately switch to the affected camera
view accompanied by an alarm. The supervisor has the abil-
ity to immediately play back the video to see what activated
the alarm. This system is employed in addition to another
intrusion detection system that is also designed to recognize
a non-LRV intrusion.
Current and Future Upgrades
Metro Transit is continuing to upgrade and retrofit. In 2007–
2008, again with DHS TSGP funding, a larger hard drive
and forward-facing cameras were added to the system on the
LRVs. In a project still under way, beginning in 2008, the
extension of LRV station platforms to accommodate threecar consists required that at least one camera be added to
each platform. Since 2009, and ongoing depending on available funding, Metro Transit plans to replace two fixed cameras at each location with megapixel cameras.
Other upgrades are also under way; virtually all involve
DHS funding. These include installing a wireless mesh network along the alignment to allow for real-time monitoring
of LRV cameras; providing the capability for wireless downloading of LRV video at the Operations and Maintenance
building, which will eliminate the need to physically remove
hard drives from the LRVs to download video, and upgrading software to a digital recording system to make it a true
network digital recording system. The last improvement is
being funded as part of the Central Corridor light rail transit expansion because it will make expanding the recording
capacity easier and less expensive in the future.
Lessons Learned
As a new light rail system, Metro Transit was able to incorporate virtually all recommended CPTED features into its
stations, station platforms, and shelters and parking facilities. In addition, onboard surveillance was an integral part
of the overall safety and security program. Despite this,
certain inadequacies were recognized almost immediately.
Problems are often magnified when never technology raises
expectations, for instance in the quality of video images and
the belief that all images can be used for positive identification. Even with a steady funding stream, something agencies
cannot rely on, the speed at which new features of surveillance systems become available makes it virtually impossible for transit agencies to keep pace with changes.
Metro Transit has been successful in obtaining funds.
Its DHS grants have totaled in excess of $1 million. However, competing for funds requires time and expertise. The
application process requires not only understanding funding requirements and deadlines but also having available
individuals with the technical knowledge to know what to
request. Additionally, although vendors are now aware of
the needs of transit agencies—particularly video systems
that can operate under varying lighting conditions and
provide sharp images that can be easily downloaded and
accessed—newer technology will create a need for everadvanced systems.
Although it is a pioneer in the use of analytics, Metro
Transit experiences have shown that there is a constant need
to review an existing network. The need to retrofit is more
often associated with far older transit agencies, but Metro
Transit’s experiences with the need to constantly upgrade
its surveillance capabilities reinforces that the need to stay
current is as important an issue for new systems as for far
older rail lines.
Description of the Transit System
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County in
Houston, Texas, known as METRO, began operations on
January 1, 1979, as a regional transit authority to provide
bus service to metropolitan Houston and surrounding areas.
In November 2003, voters approved Metro Solutions, a plan
for multimodal transportation improvements that included
development of 30 miles of light rail transit. At present,
METRORail’s Red Line is a 7.5-mile light rail system that
runs between the University of Houston-Downtown to south
of Reliant Park along three major streets. Eighteen LRVs
travel at grade, sharing streets with other vehicles. Powered
by an overhead catenary system, the LRVs provide service to
16 stations, most located near major city facilities, including
the museum district, the Houston Zoo, and the Texas Medical Center.
Trains operate from 4:30 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. Monday
through Thursday; 4:30 a.m. to 2:15 a.m. Friday; 5:30 a.m.
to 2:15 a.m. Saturday, and 5:30 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. Sunday.
METRORail also serves the Bush Intercontinental Airport
by means of a bus every 30 minutes. In addition to the rail and
local bus service, METRO also has a commuter bus system
that provides high-passenger capacity service to suburban
patrons by bringing them into downtown Houston through
one of the five METRO high-occupancy vehicle lanes.
METRORail parking is provided at the southern-most
end of the light rail line. It is managed through a public-private partnership; METRO supplies the infrastructure, which
includes video monitoring, and the private firm manages the
fee collection. Parking for the commuter service is available
at a total of 27 parking facilities (known locally as park-andrides) located at various points along the line.
Security Organization and Personnel
The METRO Police Department was formed in 1982; at that
time, METRO was one of only a handful of bus-only sys-
tems that maintained its own police department. It is also
the only transit agency whose police officers are responsible
for enforcement of laws and regulations pertaining to the
highway system’s high occupancy vehicle lanes. All traffic control and enforcement efforts are monitored at the
METRO command center located at police headquarters in
downtown Houston and at the regional transportation and
emergency management center known as TransStar.
The police department originated as a small group of
security guards; soon officers were commissioned as Texas
peace officers with full police powers. The department,
under the leadership of Chief Thomas C. Lambert, whose
formal title is Vice President and Chief of Police, contains
185 police officers and 88 non-sworn civilian employees,
about one-quarter of whom are system safety professionals. The department has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies since
2001, and it is one of only five transit police departments
with this accreditation. It was also recently rated in the top
5% of mass transit agencies in an assessment conducted
by TSA. The majority of the department’s employees are
located at the Buffalo Bayou facility in Houston’s Central Business District. Police communications and dispatch personnel work at TranStar, located near the Katy
Frwy/610 interchange.
METRO police officers work within the 1,285 squaremile METRO service area. They are responsible for METRO
facilities, and vehicles and equipment. They respond to
calls for police service and investigate crimes that involve
METRO or occur on METRO’s facilities, which include, in
addition to the light rail line and LRVs, 26 parking lots, 20
transit centers, the 1900 Main administrative headquarters,
the Rail Operations Center near Reliant Stadium, nine bus
operating facilities located throughout the service area, the
more than 13,000 bus stops and shelters, and all buses. Teams
of officers are assigned full time to ride buses and LRVs in
uniform and in plainclothes to enhance passenger safety by
observing and arresting persons who commit crimes such as
operator assaults, robberies, thefts, or narcotics violations on
the transit system.
Watch Command Officers at TranStar monitor the surveillance cameras installed at park-and-ride lots and transit centers. Bus cameras are not monitored in real time.
For those cameras that are monitored in real time, when
suspected criminal activity is observed the officers dispatch roving officers to the scenes of the incidents. The
video that is collected from aboard camera-equipped buses
is reviewed after an offense to aid in prosecution. Another
METRO police division designed to keep traffic moving is
the Motorist Assistance Program. Civilian employees drive
marked pick-up trucks with extra gas, jumper cables, and
other equipment to help motorists using the high occupancy
vehicle lanes along the expressways.
Other police operations include K-9 teams trained in narcotic
or explosives detection, a first-responder Special Operations
Response Team, motorcycle officers, and explosives ordinance
disposal technicians, as well as several officers assigned full
time to the Houston Crime Stoppers office, the Houston Police
Department’s Auto Theft Division, and the Houston FBI Joint
Terrorism Task Force. Information not publicly available was
provided for the case study by Sgt. Felix Vara.
Existing Surveillance Technology
METRO’s use of video surveillance developed in piecemeal
fashion. First introduced at a number of employee facilities
in 1982, it was extended to LRVs in 2004, park-and-ride lots
in 2007, and buses in 2008. This pattern differs from many
other multimodal systems, where surveillance technology
has been introduced on buses and only later expanded to
railcars. The existing network relies on almost 650 cameras,
almost 400 of which cover parking facilities, 130 monitor
employee facilities, and 34 are installed on METRORail.
Park-and-ride video was supported by an FTA grant. The
majority of other cameras were funded from local sources,
although DHS funding contributed to cameras on buses.
Onboard cameras covering both passenger and operator/cab areas are installed on all LRVs. In addition, fixed
cameras located at rail stations are focused on the paid fare
zones. Not all cameras are monitored at all times; park-andride lots, headquarters, and employee facilities cameras are
monitored only during hours of operation. These cameras
have provided video of sufficient quality to aid in the prosecutions of numerous burglaries and of motor vehicle theft
suspects. In addition to cameras at METRO facilities and on
LRVs, about one-third of the bus fleet has onboard cameras.
The video obtained from onboard the buses has also assisted
in a number of prosecutions, most often of suspects accused
of having assaulted patrons or bus operators. METRO has
also found these cameras particularly effective in monitoring
a number of safety and risk management-related problems.
Current and Future Upgrades
METRO is currently considering a number of expansions
of its video surveillance system that include upgrading
equipment but also using surveillance to enhance both its
law enforcement and accident prevention efforts. In keeping with advances in camera design, METRO has decided
that all new purchases will be of pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The
agency hopes to eventually phase out all fixed-position cameras except in locations where these older-design cameras are
more feasible. METRO is also exploring expanding its use of
video technology in place of or in conjunction with existing
perimeter defense such as gates. This change is based on the
agency’s belief that video will provide less porous protection
while also providing investigatory support, something that
static perimeter protection mechanisms lack.
METRO is also exploring other ways to expand its investigative capabilities through better use of video technology.
For instance, the police are working closely with risk management personnel to enhance protection of park-and-ride
lots. In addition to providing greater protection to patrons,
transit administrators believe that this will help the agency
reduce monetary claims based on injury or loss or damage
to private vehicles. One expansion under review is possible
because the software used to support the images provided by
the cameras in park-and-ride lots is also capable of license
plate recognition. With this application, METRO police officers would be able to identify the owner of a vehicle or to
determine if the vehicle had been used in criminal activity
elsewhere, prompting a higher level of vigilance.
In addition, METRO is considering expanding its use
of video cameras at bus transit points, and partnering with
the City of Houston on a homeland security video initiative that would add cameras at additional points along the
transit system. This system would rely on wireless cameras,
which would minimize the expense of wired connectivity
and would capitalize on METRO’s existing fiber-optic cable
infrastructure. In addition to the savings this would represent for the city, these newer-model cameras are portable and
could be moved to various transit system locations. Portability would assist criminal investigators because they would
be able to analyze crime data and concentrate video surveillance on areas where incidents are occurring, the so-called
hot spots of transit criminal activity. METRO sees this as
particularly useful for focusing its surveillance efforts on
bus stops and shelters. Because these are generally located
on city streets, preventing incidents from occurring benefits
both the city and METRO. The mobile cameras may also be
employed at LRV stops and, as the system expands into less
dense areas of the city, at locations that might be less likely
to be regularly patrolled by city or METRO police officers.
Using Analytics to Prevent Traffic Accidents
METRO is studying the use of an innovative analytics system to monitor nontransit vehicles making left turns into the
LRVs’ alignment. The new system has the ability to monitor
vehicle movement on a 24-hour, 7-day basis and to report
where these actions are occurring, minimizing manpower
needs and providing information for directed enforcement.
The system is deceptively simple. A test video shows
a number of cars making turns that require crossing over
the LRV tracks. Vehicles turning properly are displayed in
green (the “go” indicator of having the right-of-way) and
those turning improperly are displayed in red (the “stop”
indicator of being expected to yield to other traffic). Plans
include an enforcement effort that will include officers dispatched to issue summonses to offending drivers. METRO
is also exploring the possibility of having summonses issued
automatically, similar to red-light and illegal-turn camera
enforcement. Summonses would be mailed to the registered owners of offending vehicles based on photos of the
METRO anticipates that this system will assist in accident prevention and investigation. In addition to assisting
in enforcement activities, reviewing where and when violations occur will permit the agency, likely in conjunction
with the city, to install additional traffic enforcement devices
as well as signage that could assist in accident prevention
efforts. The transit agency is responding in part to local
concerns about the high number of accidents between LRVs
and other vehicles since rail service was initiated. Although
the accident rate has fallen considerably in recent years, it
was initially far higher than the national average for similar
street-running rail systems. By 2007 there were fewer than
20 accidents, down from a high of 60 in 2004.
A number of safety improvements, including new signage, better signal layout, public education, and media attention to the problem, contributed to reducing the number of
incidents involving road vehicles and LRVs. The use of analytic video adds another layer of protection to riders in both
the railcars and other vehicles as well as to pedestrians, who
may also be injured if accidents occur (Figure 6).
FIGURE 6 The photo represents Houston METRO’s plan for
installation of video analytics to detect illegal left turns by
road vehicles into the LRV’s right of way. Photo courtesy of
METRO Police.
Lessons Learned
Although METRO is not the only transit agency that is turning to analytics as a risk mitigation strategy, it is an example
of how working partnerships with local government can
bring these innovations closer to fruition. Street-running
rail systems are faced with traffic and pedestrian concerns
that do not exist for commuter or heavy rail systems. These
issues, while presenting unique accident-prevention problems, also present greater opportunity to partner with local
government, which must also respond to complaints from
the public over street-level accidents and traffic congestion.
Responding to the same concerns, Valley Metro in Phoenix (see Case Study 5) has used its external vehicle cameras
to assist in determining problems at grade crossings. The
existence of video also helped to establish culpability in Boston in April 2010, when a sports utility vehicle was hit by
an MBTA trolley while making a U-turn across the tracks.
In this instance, the accident received widespread publicity
because the vehicle was driven by a member of the Boston
College national championship hockey team. The driver
was charged by police in part based on video of the incident
(“Boston College Players’ Crash…” 2010). These examples,
combined with its own experiences, illustrate why METRO
sees video analytics as a way to reinforce its accident mitigation strategies. These examples also show how transit
systems, particularly street-running light rail systems, are
returning to and updating the earlier uses of surveillance primarily to control traffic and risk rather than seeing it primarily as a crime prevention tool, the use that has become more
prevalent in recent years.
METRO’s interest in working with the city administration on the mobile camera project and on its own left-turn
analytics project that will aid in traffic enforcement also
reinforce the importance of recognizing the collaborative
possibilities that are open to transit agencies. Such opportunities, particularly light rail systems that literally share
the streets with vehicles and pedestrians, open possibilities
for identifying mutual concerns over traffic congestion and
management and for participating with local government in
determining appropriate operational responses.
Such collaborations have important future implications.
For METRO, with extensive expansion plans that include an
additional 30 miles of track, partnering with Houston may
help it to convince smaller communities along the alignment
to participate in similar upgrades and to provide the transit
system with a way to minimize public complaints and financial claims stemming from traffic-related matters. Given the
opportunity, other transit agencies may recognize areas in
which they, too, can benefit from working more closely with
the localities through which they travel.
Description of the Transit System
The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAAC) is a multimodal transit provider of bus, light rail, and paratransit in
a 730-square-mile area that includes the city of Pittsburgh,
all of Allegheny County, and limited portions of Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland
counties. In addition to its transit system, known locally as
the T and comprising a 25.2 mile subway and light rail system, it operates an extensive network of more than 1,000
buses, including three major bus rapid transit busways, the
first of which opened in 1977 and the most recent in 2000.
As with Minnesota’s Metro Transit, it is currently expanding its LRT system.
Pittsburgh’s streetcar service began in 1902 but was eventually abandoned by Pittsburgh Railways, which replaced it
with bus routes. PAAC was created by the state in 1956, initially focused on port facilities. By the end of the decade it
was authorized to acquire privately owned transit companies, including bus lines and two funiculars (incline-plain
railways), both of which were constructed in the 1870s. The
Monongahela Incline, a 630-ft, two-car funicular, is operated by PAAC; the two cars of the 800-foot Dusquesne
Incline are owned by PAAC but operated by the nonprofit
Society for the Preservation of Duquesne Heights Incline. In
addition to providing local transit service, the funiculars are
area tourist attractions.
Construction of the T began in the 1980s. In July 1985,
the downtown subway opened for revenue service; other sections opened in 1987 and in 2004. The system operates more
than 80 LRVs; the vehicles require three floor-level doors
per side because of the mix of high- and low-platform stations. There are 24 high-level platform stations, four downtown subway stations, and 37 street-level stops. Stations are
equipped with bicycle racks (although bikes are permitted
on LRVs only on weekends), electronic message boards, a
public address system, telephones and benches, and surveillance system coverage. The T travels through downtown
Pittsburgh as a subway with three underground stations
(Steel Plaza at Grant Street, Wood Street, and Gateway) and
an aboveground station at First Avenue. The downtown loop
is free and features classical music and whimsical artwork.
The remainder of the system is not free. The T travels across
the river to Station Square on the South Side. After going
above the Monongahela River, the transit vehicles run above
ground along three different light rail lines that travel into
Pittsburgh’s south suburbs. Major stations also serve as bustransfer points into downtown Pittsburgh.
Construction is currently ongoing for the North Shore
Connector, a light rail extension that will extend the transit system by about 1 mile. Although the distance covered
by the extension is fairly short, constructing and protecting is complex because it will travel underground from the
Gateway Station, under the Allegheny River in twin-bored
tunnels, to the north shore, providing service to newly developed residential and business areas; to PNC Park and Heinz
Field, two major professional sports venues, and to a newly
constructed casino. Construction of the connector necessitated closing the original Gateway T Station to make room
for a new Gateway Center Station. The new line is expected
to open for revenue service in March 2012. As with Houston’s METRO, PAAC anticipates additional light rail expansion, including service to Pittsburgh International Airport,
which also operates under its auspices.
Security Organization and Personnel
The Port Authority Police and Security Services Department
was formed in 1968; it is responsible for all PAAC patrol
and investigative functions. Recognized as police within the
state of Pennsylvania, officers are commissioned in the name
of the governor and are authorized to take all police action
on and adjacent to PAAC property as well as throughout the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when on PAAC business.
The leadership of the department has been stable; the current
chief, Stephen McCauley, is only the fourth person to lead it.
He had been the assistant chief under his predecessor, William McArdle. McArdle, a retired FBI agent who grew up
and worked in Pittsburgh, joined PAAC as its chief in 1994
and retired in 2006.
The department grew from fewer than 20 officers who also
contracted with the county sheriff’s office to its current size.
It remains one of the smaller dedicated transit police departments, composed of about 40 sworn officers augmented by
approximately 12 security guards. In addition to responsibility for patrol in uniform and plainclothes and investigations
of past crimes, a number of officers are trained in a variety
of police specializations, including accident reconstruction.
Since 2004, the department has included a canine unit of
specially trained dogs working with their police officer handlers on both routine patrol and for explosive detection. Officers have been trained to staff an Emergency Services Unit,
and about one-third of all officers have received specialized
training in handling chemical detection and hostage situations, and responding to active shooter situations on buses
and railcars. Information not publicly available was provided
for the case study by Chief McCauley.
Existing Surveillance Technology
All underground stations are currently equipped with video
cameras on all levels that are monitored by the PAAC police.
At the time of the case study, in mid-2010, PAAC was anticipating that the existing cameras would be upgraded by
the end of the year to video over Internet protocol service.
Beginning in 1985–1986, black-and-white fixed-position
cameras were installed in all subway stations, and various
upgrades and expansions have been undertaken as funds
became available. Red telephones labeled “Emergency—
Port Authority Police” are located in all stations. Other
safety and security features include glass panels in elevator doors for two-way visibility. LRVs are equipped with
two-way radios with direct communication with the Operations Control Center, a buzzer system to alert patrons that
doors are closing, and a number of features to aid emergency
evacuations. Fewer than half of all stations, station platforms, and shelters are currently monitored by surveillance
cameras. Cameras are also employed to protect storage and
other yards. All cameras are monitored on a 24-hour, 7-day-
a-week basis by a combined staff of police dispatchers and
rail operations staff.
A DHS grant of about $160,000 was used to mount chemical/radiation-detection sensors in a number of downtown stations in 2006 and 2007. Similar to fire or smoke detectors, the
sensors monitor for various chemical agents or gases and send
an alert to the Operations Control Center and the county’s
emergency operations center. Because of its growing reliance
on computers, sensors, and surveillance cameras, since 2006
the police department has added computer and video forensic specialists to its staff. McCauley noted that because grant
funds are generally available only to purchase equipment,
agencies must add the salary and related costs of hiring and
training specialists to the costs of system upgrades.
As for all the case study agencies, financial issues such
as these are important to PAAC. DHS categorizes PAAC
as a Tier II agency. Although it is the only Tier II agency
in the designated Pittsburgh Area, there are a number of
larger Tier I agencies located in the Philadelphia area Urban
Areas Security Initiative, including NJT, SEPTA, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Delaware Transit Corporation, and the Delaware River Port Authority.
Although PAAC does not compete against these Tier I agencies directly, DHS funds are not unlimited. To achieve maximum funding, grant development and writing efforts involve
a number of PAAC offices. The police department works
closely with the system safety department and receives grant
writing assistance from specialists within the agency. The
process is complex and time consuming; funds are generally
not received within the 1-year grant cycle, which means that
if the agency hopes to obtain future funding, it must plan a
series of upgrades that can enhance the entire network but
can be done somewhat independently of one another. PAAC
has been successful in its grant applications. McCauley estimates that 80% of its surveillance system funds have come
from DHS and the other 20% from agency funding. The
funds have been used to upgrade monitoring and dispatching and increase the size of the facility from which video is
monitored, in part in anticipation of future expansion of both
the transit system and the surveillance network.
In 2007, PAAC received close to $1 million from DHS
to add fencing at a number of facilities; deploy additional
digital surveillance cameras, primarily at four busway stations; and provide training to staff on terrorism prevention.
The funds were the third-largest grant nationally to similar-sized transit agencies and completed the second phase
of PAAC’s earlier security upgrade by adding the chemical/
radiation recognition equipment. Including the 2007 grant,
up to that time PAAC had received about $4.3 million from
DHS, which, according to Steve Bland, the authority’s chief
executive officer, was a significant amount for a city of Pittsburgh’s size (Grata 2007).
Current and Future Upgrades
The current ongoing project involves upgrading and extending surveillance technology to depots, garages, and storage
areas. Part of this plan involves bringing all the new and
existing technology together into one smoothly functioning system. Although DHS funding is for antiterrorism
installations and upgrading, PAAC’s internal grants review
committee considers projects that are not all video-surveillance-based. For instance, members of the review committee
from operating departments may be interested in obtaining
funds for high-speed doors for railcars, security fencing,
or upgrading the agency’s communication network (which
formed the basis of the FY 2010 grant request). In addition,
the agency’s operating plans include surveillance in patrol
and operator/cab areas for all new vehicles and surveillance
cameras in all new station design plans, a plan that has been
implemented for all North Shore Connector stations.
PAAC has received between $8 and $9.5 million in grant
funding over the past decade. Although the transit system
has never been placed on a terrorist alert, as with other transit systems, PAAC has used the funds to enhance day-to-day
security and crime prevention efforts on the transit system
and in areas near stations with cameras. As in cities around
the country, news media have become more attuned to the
use of video surveillance in criminal apprehensions. In May
2010, PAAC police were reported to be viewing surveillance
video from a city camera to investigate vandalism to vehicles
in a park-and-ride lot where transit cameras had not been
installed. Seven weeks later PAAC cameras on a downtown
trolley were used to arrest one of Allegheny County’s most
wanted fugitives who he was spotted on the transit system
and was taken into custody when he detrained (“Allegheny
County Fugitive…” 2010; Harding 2010).
Pittsburgh is one of a number of cities, including Chicago, New York, and Baltimore, where municipal officials
have begun to speak out about their desire to increase the
use of video surveillance to protect against terrorism but
also against routine crimes. As with Chicago’s Mayor Daley
and New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, Pittsburgh’s Mayor
Luke Ravenstahl has made the installation of surveillance
throughout the city a high priority of his administration. His
efforts have received less national publicity, but apart from
PAAC funding requests, the city, with the Community College of Allegheny and Carnegie Mellon University, has asked
for about $14 million from the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. In addition, since 2009 the city
has used its own $2.4 million DHS grant to install cameras
near waterways, ports, and rivers, and in high-crime areas.
It has augmented the DHS funds with about $860,000 of
local matching funds. The city owns only 22 surveillance
cameras, but the mayor has publicized its access to about
300 cameras owned by PAAC, the Pennsylvania Department
of Transportation, and private businesses. Smaller communities in the immediate area have also approved funds for
surveillance cameras (Brandolph April 9, 2010; Brandolph
April 22, 2010).
Despite the existence of a 10-page policy that addresses
privacy issues relating to the cameras, the mayor’s plans
have drawn criticism from the American Civil Liberties
Union and others who oppose the cameras on the basis of
costs and civil liberties issues, or on research questioning
their value in crime prevention (Wilkinson 2010). One critic
noted that neither the Port of Pittsburgh Commission nor
the local Coast Guard installation reported a single threat
against Pittsburgh’s waterways or port facilities (Levine
2008). Each municipality that has so far publicized a desire
to rely on video surveillance to fight crime has been criticized by local civil liberties groups. Additionally, by focusing on surveillance technology as a crime-fighting tool,
these municipal officials have led the media to inquire after
almost all crimes about whether video exists from the crime
scene. Each of the cities also includes within its borders wellestablished transit agencies that make use of video surveillance and that rely to differing degrees on DHS funding for
system expansions.
Valley Metro Rail, known as METRO, is a 20-mile at-grade
light rail system connecting the cities of Phoenix, Tempe,
and Mesa. Costing $1.43 billion to build, it began revenue
service in December 2008, operating from 19th Avenue and
Bethany Home Road in Phoenix, continuing through downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe to Main Street and
Sycamore in Mesa. Valley Metro has 28 stations; the major
activity centers it serves are downtown Phoenix, the Sky
Harbor Airport, Papago Park Center, Arizona State University, downtown Tempe, and Mesa. Eight parking lots provide
a total of 3,600 spaces. Most of the embedded track is in
streets, separated from traffic lanes by a nominal 6-in curb.
Direct fixation is used to attach rail on bridges, and tie and
ballast is used in the Operations and Maintenance Center
yard, located in Phoenix.
Lessons Learned
These ongoing and fluid situations raise questions that are
important to transit agencies. Not yet lessons learned, they
are more appropriately items for long-range consideration.
For instance, transit agencies, particularly those that compete for Tier II funds, may be competing for DHS funds not
only with other transit agencies but also with the cities in
which they are located. Although the DHS funds come from
different grant programs, questions may arise as to whether
funds to a municipality may influence awards to the city’s
transit system. This may lead to transit agencies giving
greater consideration to partnering with their cities, as in
Houston, by seeking funding for surveillance improvements
as upgrades as part of municipal planning but may present
problems for transit agencies that overlap a number of political jurisdictions.
Apart from funding, it is difficult to predict the outcome of
greater attention being paid to video surveillance as a crime
prevention and apprehension tool. Although this increased
focus on video surveillance may assist transit agencies in
expanding their use of the technology and win them support
from external stakeholders who are more concerned with
crime than with terrorism, it may also cause the agencies
to become embroiled in civil liberties debates surrounding
the use of video surveillance. Expanded use of surveillance
solely as a crime control tool also may undercut the ability
of transit systems use of it to enhance their fraud control and
risk mitigation efforts.
Description of the Transit System
Fifty electric-powered LRVs can be operated singly or as
two- or three-car trains by means of an overhead contact
wire (catenary) at 850-volts DC that receives power from the
two electric companies at traction power substations, located
approximately every mile along the alignment. Operating
headway is 10 minutes during weekdays, increasing to 15
to between 20 and 30 minutes during off-peak and on weekends. The system operates approximately 20 hours per day.
The Operations Control Center, located in Phoenix, is adjacent to the Bus Control Center.
A proof-of-payment system is used to collect fares. Paid
areas are indicated by signage and compliance is reinforced
by periodic inspection conducted by contract security personnel. Paid areas, sometimes called fare paid zones, are
the areas, generally station platforms, where patrons are
expected to have valid tickets and may be asked by transit
personnel to show a ticket, a receipt, or some other proof
that they have paid for travel. Although the agency estimates
its evasion rate at less than 1%, it believes it will improve its
capability to discourage nonpayment by upgrading its system of manually verifying the identity of riders with an electronic system that will be tied to a database of past evaders.
Security Organization and Personnel
Valley Metro relies on an unusual two-pronged arrangement to secure its transit system. All three cities support the
transit system by having their officers respond to calls for
service, but only the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) has
a transit bureau that routinely assigns sworn officers to transit facilities within its jurisdiction. Phoenix also provides
department-employed police assistants, primarily as fare
inspectors, whereas Tempe and Mesa have chosen to rely on
the same contract security firm for those tasks. In addition to
fare inspection duties, the contract security firm, responsible
to the transit agency rather than the individual cities, also
patrols stations, platforms, and park-and-ride lots. Patrols
include riding the trains, responding to calls by means of
dispatched patrol cars, and patrolling stations on personal
transportation devices (Segway). Approximately two-thirds
of the system is within the city of Phoenix and the PPD is
responsible for security only within its citywide jurisdiction.
Similarly, the security contractor is responsible for security for only the remaining third of the system, specifically
within the cities of Tempe and Mesa. (This comprises only
about 1 mile and one station, which is at the east end of the
line in Mesa.) PPD also provides municipal security guards
to staff the Operations and Maintenance Center. Information not publicly available was provided for the case study by
Larry Engleman, until recently the director of the Office of
Safety, Security and Quality Assurance, who has remained
with Valley Metro as its safety and security consultant.
Original Video Surveillance System
Valley Metro began planning its security system, including video surveillance, almost as soon as it began planning
the overall transit system. Beginning with the formation of
its Fire Life Safety and Security Committee in 2001, Valley Metro encouraged area police and fire officials—especially those from Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa—to get and
stay involved. The committee was active, with more than
50 meetings during the years of planning, and benefited
from stability in its membership and the CPTED expertise
within the group. This advanced planning resulted in all
facilities and vehicles being designed using CPTED principles. Stations were built to be open so as to minimize
areas for criminals to hide, individual seating is provided to
discourage lounging and loitering, and seats on LRVs face
the doors where possible so patrons are aware of the movement of other patrons. Specifications to manufacturers call
for vandal-resistant materials of smooth nonporous surfaces
and cut-resistant fabrics. Plastic film covers all windows and
other glass surfaces for easy replacement if marred by graffiti or scratchiti.
Video surveillance cameras have been an integral part of
safety and security since the introduction of revenue service.
All eight parking lots (referred to locally as park-and-ride
lots) are covered by surveillance cameras that are monitored
locally and at the control center, which is itself monitored by
surveillance cameras. Cameras also cover station platforms
and focus on emergency call boxes, which can be helpful
if they are engaged and those trying to reach the control
center are for any reason incapacitated. This type of surveillance of call boxes is also useful in preventing improper
use; for instance, someone might use the phone to initiate a
false emergency call as a distraction for criminal behavior.
Emergency call boxes are also equipped with local audi-
ble and visual alarms to further discourage misuse. Other
emergency and communication systems include a public
address system and variable message boards at stations and
a SCADA system that monitors train operations and supporting subsystems.
Surveillance is also in place at the Operations and Maintenance Center yard, where it is used to support perimeter
fencing and access control at administrative areas. Security
is tight at Valley Metro’s administrative offices in downtown
Phoenix. Electronic locks and key cards provide access control; employees need to display their ID cards at all times,
and all visitors must be signed in and are issued visitor ID
cards. All areas that are accessible to the public are under
camera surveillance, primarily for use as post-event investigatory tools.
In addition, all LRVs are equipped with a larger number
of cameras than in many other transit systems. Of the 16
cameras, all continuously recording, 10 cover the exterior
and 6 cover the interior of the rail cars. If a passenger uses
an onboard emergency intercom to contact the operator,
the nearest camera is activated on the operator’s console so
that the operator can assess conditions. The external cameras play a large role in accident investigation, particularly
LRV and passenger vehicle collisions. For example, video
removed from an LRV in early 2009 had recorded crossing
arm activity that assisted in determining the cause of a collision between a truck and that LRV. The information was also
used to check conditions at four similarly designed grade
crossings (“Status of Metro Investigation…” 2009).
Protecting the Tempe Town Lake Bridge
A major element of the surveillance system, and a particular
focus of Valley Metro’s safety and security program, is the
1,500-ft bridge over the Tempe Town Lake. The protection
of the Tempe Town Lake Bridge relies on a unique combination of intrusion detection and surveillance cameras in
a high-traffic area. The system provides for protecting the
bridge itself and also covers the approach to the bridge and a
lead track into the rail yard.
The Town Lake and its adjacent Beach Park are local
focal points for major events. The beach, originally built in
1931, was renovated in 1999 as part of the construction of
the lake, which is built on inflatable rubber barriers in the
riverbed to confine water within its 2-mile-long boundaries. In addition to regular recreational facilities, the beach
contains an amphitheater that accommodates about 5,000
people. The beach and the lake are the sites of many annual
events, including two triathlons, music festivals, the fantasy
of lights July 4th fireworks show, a New Year’s Eve block
party, and other activities that draw large crowds to the area.
There are also attractions at either end of the bridge; at one
end is a busy and popular nightclub and at the other side is the
Arizona State University campus. When the alignment for
the transit project was approved, the need for a bridge over
the lake became a major element of the project owing to the
area’s popularity and because of the large amount of traffic
in the area. The need for modern and dependable protection
of the LRVs and of pedestrians was immediately apparent.
Since its opening, the bridge has become integrated into the
activities associated with the lake. Its construction began in
early 2005; a lighting ceremony celebrated the completion
of its most important parts 1 year later, and since the official
opening of the transit system, a LED light display under the
bridge casts varying colors onto the lake after dark.
Current and Future Upgrades
The surveillance system was installed by NICE; cameras
are high-resolution color analog that is converted to digital.
All cameras and security systems feed into Valley Metro’s
fiber-optic backbone, which eliminates outside connections
and makes it virtually impossible to hack the system. All
cameras record continuously; images from facility cameras
at the control center are stored for 30 days and onboard LRV
images are stored for 3 days. Management has attempted to
determine the overall costs of the system by separating the
camera system from the rest of its communications equipment, but has been advised by its communication engineer
that it is impossible to section out costs in this way.
Lessons Learned
The first line of security for the bridge is the responsibility of the Passenger Assistance Agents at the control center,
who monitor the surveillance cameras and intrusion alarms.
They dispatch security officers for all intrusions, and the
Tempe Police Department typically responds. The nature of
police statistics, which are based on events that occur rather
than those that are prevented, makes it impossible for Valley
Metro to know the number of people who have been deterred
from trespassing because of the publicity about the intrusion detection warning system or the surveillance cameras.
Since the opening of the transit system, though, the Tempe
police have received notifications that resulted in 21 arrests
and three warnings. Because DHS has identified the bridge
as critical infrastructure, trespassing is considered a felony,
the most serious category of crime. This is highly unusual;
trespassing is generally not treated as felonious. In addition, 25 reports of activity were deemed unfounded because
although police were dispatched, no trespassers or other
unusual activities were observed in the area.
Because it was a new transit system at the time it developed
its surveillance capabilities, Valley Metro was not eligible
for DHS funding. It is the only agency that participated in
the synthesis that reported that 100% of its funds for its
surveillance system were derived from agency funds. Valley Metro is attempting to obtain outside funding through
either DHS or the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act to incorporate analytics into its existing surveillance
network, but thus far has not been awarded funds under
either program.
Engleman attributes much of the success surrounding the
light rail system’s entire surveillance network, but particularly the Town Lake Bridge system, to the cooperation and
continuity that began with the Fire Life Safety and Security
Committee and that has continued until the present time.
What might seem to be a complex policing arrangementinvolving three local jurisdictions and a private security
firm is successful because the police departments work
well together and because they became involved with transit agency system design years before the start of revenue
operations. Each city had time to consider its transit security arrangements and to decide, in consultation with Valley Metro, how to provide patrol coverage as well as how to
respond to emergencies on the rail system.
Valley Metro reinforces its own role in protecting its
property by investing in electronically protecting the Town
Lake Bridge, as well as all other facilities, and also by sharing its surveillance images with local police to help them
solve incidents and investigate accidents. Valley Metro also
helps keep the local police from becoming overburdened
with transit-related calls by having its emergency call boxes
linked to its Operations Control Center rather than directly
to the police so that it can filter out calls that are not actual
emergencies, such as patrons using the phone to find out
when the next train is due to arrive. Although a state-of-theart surveillance system benefits the transit system and local
police, planning and continued cooperation are important
elements of ensuring that maximum value is obtained from
the surveillance network.
This synthesis presented a current snapshot of the use of
electronic video surveillance technology by passenger rail
agencies. It placed that usage in a historical context and
discussed new technology involving video analytics and
sensors and emerging issues such as video surveillance protection of the right-of-way (ROW). It presented numerous
findings, including the following:
• The overwhelming majority of passenger rail transit
agencies rely on electronic video surveillance somewhere on their property.
• Despite the focus on electronic video surveillance
systems in the context of terrorism since September
11, 2001, most passenger rail transit agencies have
employed surveillance on their systems since the
1990s, and some as early as the 1970s.
• The largest single set of locations where electronic
video surveillance cameras were used was stations,
station platforms, and shelters. Unsurprisingly, systems that came into existence in the past 10 years are
more likely to make greater use of video surveillance
than older systems.
• More than half the respondents (28 agencies) employed
video surveillance cameras in their patron parking
• The same number of agencies (28, though not all
the same agencies) employed surveillance cameras
onboard vehicles; fewer than half of these (11) indicated its use in operator/cab areas.
• More than half the respondents relied on video surveillance in storage yards, administrative areas, or other
nonpublic areas.
• Of the uses presented, right-of-way (ROW) surveillance was used least frequently and was most likely to
be installed near stations.
• Light rail systems were more likely to employ onboard
video surveillance than heavy or commuter rail systems; many respondents indicated that at least 75%
of their vehicles had cameras. This difference can be
attributed to the age of these systems. Newer systems
were more likely to have had video surveillance cameras installed by the railcar manufacturer and were
more likely to indicate that all new vehicles will have
video systems pre-installed.
• More than half the video surveillance systems are
digital rather than analog, but most are either a combi-
nation or in transition. The most common special features were 24-hour recording, existence of a secondary
power source, and low-light resolution. Recent media
attention to video analytics is not yet reflected widely
in transit agencies’ technology.
Almost half the agencies assign personnel to monitor
video cameras on a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week basis. The
most common staffing configuration is a combination of police/security and rail operations personnel.
Agencies that do not monitor their cameras regularly
or at all indicated that personnel costs were the major
determining factor.
A majority of agencies archive video images, although
the retention periods differed substantially from a few
days to a year or more. Similarly, access to images is
controlled by the agencies. The most common limitation is “designated individuals only,” which most often
includes police/security personnel, rail operations
supervisors, and risk management personnel.
The two most common applications of video surveillance were crime/vandalism prevention and accident investigation; the least common application was
employee monitoring.
Few agencies had surveyed patrons on whether the
use of video surveillance added to their perceptions of
security. Fewer still had measured employee perceptions or had consulted employee groups in the decision
to install surveillance systems.
Agencies provided their percentage of funding for surveillance systems from various sources; they were not
asked to provide actual dollar amounts of the funds
received. The largest current funding source for surveillance systems is DHS; the next largest funding
source was the FTA grant program.
Several major conclusions can be drawn from these
• Reliable funding sources are necessary to assist
agencies in making more effective use of available
grants to upgrade security systems. The process for
obtaining funding for initial purchases or upgrading
existing video surveillance systems is complex and
time-consuming. Many agencies rely primarily on
DHS for all or most of their funds. The funding process involves a number of agency offices—most often
police/security, safety, risk management, information
technology, finance, and grant application personnel—
which results in a large amount of employee collaboration. However, because funds must be applied for
on a yearly basis, it is difficult to anticipate the success of and even more difficult to plan for multiyear
projects. Presently, DHS is seen as the largest single
source of funding for security training and equipment
purchases, and as a result it has a large influence on
decisions made by transit agencies regardless of size,
location, or mode.
Agencies are seeking forums to share ideas and best
practices. Despite large expenditures for design and
purchase of surveillance equipment, transit agencies
are highly dependent on vendor claims and on procedures that may require selection of the lowest bidder.
Agencies would benefit from a forum to share transit-specific requirements and experiences to balance
against unsubstantiated claims. This role could be
filled by the U.S.DOT or by one or more transit-specific
professional associations.
Policies on image access and retention are inconsistent. Transit agencies follow a variety of procedures in
these areas. Some are guided by state laws pertaining to
records maintenance and access but there is little overall
guidance in establishing access and retention policies.
The forum described previously could provide guidance
and uniformity in these areas. Transit police/security
managers might also consult with local police in their
jurisdictions for additional information because having
similar policies may be useful if local prosecutors or
civic groups question their existing procedures.
ROW surveillance is an emerging issue. Relatively
few agencies provide any surveillance of their ROWs;
those that do provide it primarily immediately adjacent
to stations. Though the reasons for this appear to be
primarily cost-related, there are also issues pertaining
to ownership of the ROW and adjacent areas; how and
by whom surveillance equipment would be installed,
monitored, and archived; and a number of other unanswered questions.
Publicizing successful applications of video surveillance may result in diversifying funding sources for
system installation and upgrading. Because crime/
vandalism prevention remains the single largest use of
video surveillance by transit systems, agencies might
work more closely with local media when malefactors
are observed and caught in the act of committing a
crime or when video images play a role in post-event
investigation of a crime. Publicity given to these types
of events may assist agencies in obtaining local funding for installation and upgrading of video systems,
resulting in less reliance on the competitive grant
structure developed by DHS. However, media attention
may result in criticism by groups opposed to the expansion of surveillance systems in public spaces.
Although many conclusions are possible based on the
analysis of the questionnaire data, the literature review, and
other research sources, a number of important areas that
require additional study have been developed. This section
briefly expands on the areas for future study enumerated in
the summary.
• Measuring the value of surveillance systems in enhancing patrons’ perceptions of security in transit stations,
platforms, or shelters and onboard railcars. The major
application of video surveillance systems is for crime/
vandalism prevention, but few agencies have surveyed
patrons on whether the systems add to their feelings
of security. Studies could gauge patron awareness of
the use of surveillance, whether it adds to their feelings of security, and whether it influences their decisions on whether to ride masstransit. Related to this
are questions of whether patrons should always be
informed that such systems are in use, how they would
be informed of this, specific wording that meets any
existing local or state legislative mandates and legal
requirements, and the best methods for creating such
awareness (i.e., public address announcements, signage, seat notices, and/or local media coverage). An
indirect benefit of such studies might be to establish
a cost/benefit methodology for determining either the
intrinsic or psychological value of whether installing surveillance systems directly or indirectly affects
patronage, particularly ridership.
• Measuring employee responses to surveillance systems.
This synthesis found that few transit agencies have
included employee representatives in decisions involving surveillance applications or in their perceptions of
whether such systems are to their benefit or exist primarily to oversee and report on their activities. Further
study could help to determine how employees perceive
surveillance systems in their work locations and, if their
perceptions are that surveillance enhances their safety
and security, whether they might be encouraged to
become involved as advocates for surveillance system
expenditures. By contrast, if employees are found to perceive surveillance systems negatively (e.g., existing primarily to enhance disciplinary proceedings), joint labor/
management committees might be formed to create a
more positive image of the value of video surveillance
as a workplace safety and security feature.
• Policy development in the area of image access and
retention, and on legal issues surrounding public access to images. One of the largest variations in
replies to survey questions was in the areas of image
access and retention. Retention ranged for virtually none at all unless something exceptional was
observed to more than a year, including up to 3 years
in one agency. Similarly, although most agencies indicated that only “designated individuals” could access
images, the list of such individuals was broad. Of the
41 agencies that answered the specific question on public access policies, 17 indicated they had none. Many
civil liberties groups have filed or indicate that they
are planning to file lawsuits on the proliferation of surveillance systems in public areas. A review of existing
laws, court decisions and pending litigation, and any
existing model policies in these areas would provide
much-needed guidance to transit agencies and could
preclude costly and time-consuming litigation.
Establishing forums to share best practices and assess
equipment performance. This synthesis found what
appear to be insufficient opportunities to share best
practices. Two-pronged research is suggested. An initial study might consider what departments or officers
within an agency are internal stakeholders in the purchase or expansion of surveillance systems and delve
into how participants decide from whom to seek funding. Among those that might be surveyed are police/
security, safety and risk management, rail operations,
information technology, purchasing, and service and
maintenance. With this information, further study
could develop recommendations for an appropriate
forum or forums for stakeholders to share information
on best practices to assess the performance of particular equipment in the transit environment.
Leveraging internal stakeholder input. Each case study
agency reinforced that obtaining funding for surveillance installation and upgrading required an agencywide effort. Internal stakeholders include police/
security, safety, risk managers, information technology, and budgetary personnel, as well as those who
regularly apply to external funding sources. Many of
these individuals meet regularly through existing security and safety committees. Questionnaire responses
indicated that employee organizations are infrequently
involved in surveillance utilization decision. Studies
focusing on the interrelationships of these groups
might bring about more nuanced decisions on how and
where to deploy surveillance technology.
Leveraging external stakeholder input. External
stakeholders may influence a transit agency’s decision
to install or expand its use of video surveillance. No
research could be located on how community crime
prevention groups, including women’s safety advocacy groups, might assist in obtaining funds or making decisions whether and where to install electronic
surveillance systems. Existing research confirms that
women are more likely to indicate fear of victimization
and that public transit locations rank high on areas they
find threatening. Transit agencies might consider partnering with women’s groups to publicize their crimeprevention efforts through events that could enhance
their participation in the local community and lead to
ridership increases.
Technical studies of surveillance technology. Transit
agency environments differ from office buildings or
retail establishments. Weather conditions, varying
hours of operation, absence of climate control, lighting
levels, and the like add to the technical complexities
of selecting and maintaining a surveillance system. A
series of studies focused more specifically on systems’
needs and vendors’ claims could minimize expenditures and maximize value. Because of the large number of transit agency offices involved in surveillance
technology decisions, there is a need to look beyond
the decision itself by also considering how the agency
will define concepts of value and performance, what
expertise exists within the agency to validate vendor
claims, and what ancillary benefits are sought (e.g.,
will the surveillance system be part of an automatic
train control system, is it viewed primarily as a security feature or in terms of fare collection or parking fee
collection control, or as part of a more general safetyrelated risk mitigation system). Answers to these questions are likely to influence the type of technology
being considered and to help determine what constitutes “value”—a term that has different meanings to
different rail agency officials. Some officials may think
in financial terms and others may think in terms of less
well-defined areas such as patron perception, terrorism
or crime prevention, or mitigation against litigation.
• Studies specifically on the emerging issues in ROW
surveillance. Although relatively few agencies provide
ROW surveillance, system liability concerns—particularly in crossing-gate areas or accidents involving
light rail vehicles and road vehicles, and the possibility
of terrorist-inspired vandalism to tracks—make protecting ROWs an issue to be studied separately from
surveillance use in patron and employee areas. There
are indications that ROW surveillance will become an
issue of increasing focus by transit agencies and by the
federal government, including decisions on installing video surveillance along key portions of systems’
ROWs. Studies into the costs and related issues involved
in protecting ROWs could be undertaken now, before
opinions are set based on assumptions rather than on
reviews of the legal issues or existing case studies.
• Studies focusing on the emerging issue of operator/cab
surveillance. The Metrolink directive and subsequent
litigation indicate that video surveillance in operator/
cab areas will remain controversial for some time to
come. Transit agencies should consider looking into the
costs of implementation and labor/management issues,
rather than awaiting federal rule-making in this area.
• Possibilities for partnering with other transit agencies
or railroads. A number of transit agencies have overlapping jurisdictions with other transit agencies, sharing either stations or ROWs. Studies could determine
whether agencies might share the costs and responsibilities of installation and maintenance of video
surveillance systems, particularly where public transit agencies share track with privately owned freight
railroads. Research might assist in developing plans
for surveillance systems along ROWs that currently
depend solely on relatively uncoordinated patrols by
law enforcement or security personnel from a number of different jurisdictions. Partnering among transit agencies or with private railroads may also expand
funding sources beyond the current dependence on
DHS and, to a lesser degree, FTA.
• Possibilities for partnering with local government. A
number of transit agencies, including case study agencies, are located in cities that are vastly increasing their
video surveillance networks. Studies of regional traffic management plans might assist the transit agencies
whose jurisdiction may go beyond the boundaries of a
particular municipality to be considered in such plans
for surveillance systems, particularly where light rail
vehicles share roadway with other vehicles or where
grade crossings play a role in overall traffic planning
and risk mitigation. Such research might help transit
agencies obtain funds as part of municipal planning
rather than having to act separately from other government entities. It might assist the agencies in participating more fully in larger traffic management studies and
related funding requests. As with partnering with private railroads, partnering with local government may
expand the funding sources on which rail transit agencies have come to depend.
These and similar studies would help transit agency managers make better use of their existing resources and find
imaginative solutions to more efficiently use video surveillance technology.
Altamont Commuter Express (California)
Bay Area Rapid Transit District (California)
BNSF Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway
closed-circuit television
CPTEDcrime prevention through environmental
Chicago Transit Authority (Illinois)
Federal Bureau of Investigation
GAOUnited States Government Accountability
GCRTAGreater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (Ohio)
global positioning system
information technology
LACMTALos Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (California)
Long Island Rail Road (New York State)
light rail vehicle
London Underground (United Kingdom)
MARTAMetropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (Georgia)
MBTAMassachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
METRACMetro Action Committee on Public Violence Against Women and Children
METROMetropolitan Transit Authority of Harris
County (Texas)
Valley Metro Rail (Arizona)
Metrolink Southern California Regional Rail Authority
MetroLink Bi-State Development Agency (Missouri)
MetroRail Miami-Dade Transit Metrorail (Florida)
MTA-MDMaryland Transit Administration (Maryland and Washington, DC)
MTAMetropolitan Transportation Authority
(New York State and Connecticut)
MTINorman Y. Mineta International Institute
for Surface Transportation Policy Studies
Institute (San Jose, California)
Mass Transit Railway (Hong Kong)
MuniSan Francisco Municipal Transportation
NFTANiagara Frontier Transportation Authority
(New York State)
New Jersey Transit
New York City Transit
PAACPort Authority of Allegheny County
PANY&NJ Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
PATCOPort Authority Transit Company (New
PATHPort Authority Trans Hudson (New Jersey
and New York State)
Phoenix Police Department
RAPTRégie Autonome des Transports Parisiens
Request for Proposal
RTDRegional Transportation District, Denver
SCADASupervisory Control and Data Acquisition
situational crime prevention
SEPTASoutheastern Pennsylvania Transportation
SRTDSacramento Regional Transit District
TransLink Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority
Tri-MetTri-County Metropolitan Transit District
Transit Security Grant Program
Toronto Transit Commission (Canada)
ticket vending machine
Union Pacific Railroad
WMATAWashington Metropolitan Area Transit
Authority (Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC)
Alignment—the pathway on which the train travels; in the
light rail transit industry, alignment is also frequently
referred to as the guideway or the fixed guideway; in the
heavy, commuter, and freight rail industry, this is most
often referred to as the right-of-way.
may be at or above ground level. Examples: Metropolitan
Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), Washington
Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s New York City
Transit (NYCT).
Analog surveillance system—analog cameras convert
information to an analog signal that may be displayed in
real time on a monitor, recorded onto a videotape storage
device, or both; the first generation of surveillance systems were all analog, but as transit agencies upgrade their
systems most are turning to digital technology.
Injury—harm to a person resulting from a single event,
activity, occurrence, or exposure of short duration.
At-grade—tracks are at-grade when they are on the same
level as the roadway or the existing rail tracks that they
parallel; grade-separated tracks are those above or below
the existing roadway or tracks.
Commuter rail—FRA-compliant railcars powered by either
diesel or electricity that provide regional passenger service
or service between a central city and its suburbs. Commuter rail service is provided on regular railroads or former railroad rights-of-way; trains may be self-propelled or
hauled by locomotives. Commuter rail is characterized by
high-speed, infrequent-stop service. Examples: Virginia
Railway Express (VRE), the Metropolitan Transportation
Administration’s Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and MetroNorth Railroad (MNRR), New Jersey Transit (NJT), and
Northstar Commuter Rail (Minneapolis, MN).
Consist (pronounced CON-sist)—a group of railcars combined to make up a train; four rail cars running as one
train is called a four-car consist.
Covert surveillance—cameras are hidden and there is no
signage indicating their installation; this approach is best
suited to crime detection and in a transit environment
would most likely be installed where a problem with crime
or fraud has been established and the agency’s aim is to
make apprehensions to pursue criminal or civil actions.
Digital surveillance system—digital cameras convert
image information into data that can be displayed, stored,
or both; because storage is on a compact disk or a computer’s hard drive, it is less space-intensive than an analog system; additionally, because exact copies of the
images can be made, they are considered more accurate
and more dependable than analog systems as evidence for
cases involving retroactive investigation.
Heavy rail—electric railways characterized by high speed
and rapid acceleration; passenger railcars that operate on
rights-of-way separate from other vehicular and/or
pedestrian traffic; trains are boarded in stations from
high-level platforms. The service may be referred to as a
subway although stations and parts of the right-of-way
Light rail—features lightweight passenger rail vehicles that
operate singly or in two- or four-car trains on fixed rails
on alignments that often share streets and roadways with
other traffic. Light rail systems are generally powered by
an overhead electric line; passengers board in stations or
from track-side stops in the street. Streetcars are a type of
light rail service with frequent stops and nearly the entire
route is operated in streets to allow passengers to board
and alight quickly. Examples: Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), Utah Transit Agency, and
Phoenix’s Valley Metro Rail.
Overt surveillance—cameras are in view of the public and
their existence is generally accompanied by signage
alerting people that they are in an area that is under video
surveillance. There is a strong crime prevention element
to such systems, but, depending on how accessible and
visible the cameras are to the public, there is a possibility
of tampering with and vandalizing the equipment.
Pan-tilt-zoom camera—a camera that can pan (move left
and right), tilt (move up and down), and zoom in or out;
its dome can rotate 360 degrees to view an object directly
below it. Pan-tilt-zoom cameras are preferred because of
their greater viewing range and because the camera can
be remotely controlled by viewers to look more closely at
specific events that have attracted their attention or to
which they have been alerted by analytics.
Right-of-way (ROW)—the pathway on which the train
travels; any piece of equipment/person within 25 feet of
the track is considered to be in the ROW. [See also
Semi-covert surveillance—cameras are in public view but
concealed, often behind one-way transparent cases; this
approach is similar in its crime prevention efforts to an
overt system but provides greater protection to the equipment and makes it more difficult for the public to know
the number of cameras or their exact locations.
Transit system—the facilities, equipment, personnel, and
procedures needed to provide and maintain public transit
Trespassers—persons on a railroad’s property in railroad
operation whose presence is prohibited or unlawful; a
person on a highway-rail crossing is not classified as a
trespasser unless the crossing is protected by gates or
barriers that were closed when the person entered the
crossing, or unless the person attempted to pass over,
under, or between cars or locomotives of a train occupying the crossing. Non-trespassers on railroad property
are persons lawfully on property used in railroad operation (other than employees, passengers, trespassers, or
contractors), and persons adjacent to railroad premises
when they are injured owing to railroad operations. Off
railroad property they are persons affected by an event
which begins on railroad property but ends on non-railroad property, for example, a derailment that results in a
release of hazardous materials onto non-railroad property, which injures a “nontrespasser” located on
that property.
Abdollah, T., “6 Hurt when Gold Line Train Hits Vehicle,”
Los Angeles Times, Sept. 22, 2007, p. B-3.
“Allegheny County Fugitive Spotted on Port Authority Surveillance Cameras,”, June
24, 2010, accessed online July 2, 2010.
Anderson, T., “A Site for Safe Transit,” Security Management, Mar. 2008, pp. 60–67.
Atlas, R.I., “Fear of Parking,” Security Management, Feb.
2008, pp. 52–59.
Beauge, B., “DHS Tests New Camera for Future of Surveillance,”, June 9, 2010, accessed online.
Ben-Zvi, G., “Opinion: Who Will Watch All That Video?”, Dec. 18, 2009, accessed online.
“Boston College Players’ Crash Involves Alcohol,” The New
York Times, Apr. 27, 2010, p. B14:1.
Brandolph, A., “City Council Approves Funding for North
Side Surveillance Cameras,” Pittsburgh Tribune Review,
April 22, 2010, n.p., accessed online.
Brandolph, A., “Pittsburgh to Add ‘Eyes’ That Never Sleep,”
Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Apr. 9, 2010, n.p., accessed
Daniel, M. and S. Smalley, “Antiterror Cameras Capturing
Crime on T Images Aid Police by Nailing Details,” The
Boston Globe, Jan. 29, 2007, n.p., accessed online.
Davenport, J., “Tens of Thousands of CCTV Cameras, Yet
80% of Crimes Unsolved,” London Evening Standard,
Sep. 19, 2007, n.p., accessed online.
Designing and Operating Safe and Secure Transit Systems:
Assessing Current Practices in the United States and
Abroad, MTI Report 04-05, Mineta Transportation Institute, College of Business, San Jose State University, San
Jose, Calif., 2005.
Easteal, P.W. and P.R. Wilson, Preventing Crime on Transport, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra,
1991, pp. 19–20.
Eder, A., “After September 11, 2001: How Transit Agencies
Prepare for the Threat of Terrorism,” Transportation
Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research
Board, No. 1927, Transportation Research Board of the
National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp.
Edwards, A., “TTC Adds 12,000 Cameras: Entire Fleet Will
Be Outfitted With Digital Surveillance,” Security Director News, Dec. 2007, pp. 10–11.
Burns, J., “Briton Is Accused of Killing 3 Women in Case
Compared to ‘Yorkshire Ripper,’” The New York Times,
May 28, 2010, p. A4:1–5.
Eligon, J., “No Indictment for a Man Who Killed 2 in the
Subway,” The New York Times, May 22, 2010, p. A13.
Burns, J., “In Britain, Laws Seen As Intrusive May Be
Lifted,” The New York Times, May 20, 2010, p. A6:5.
Felson, R.B., “Big People Hit Little People: Sex Differences
in Physical Power and Interpersonal Violence,” Criminology, Vol. 34, No. 3, 1996, pp. 433–452.
Butcher, C., “Underground Communications Keep Passengers Safe and Informed,” Railway Gazette International,
Oct. 1990, pp. 787–790.
“Cash to Secure Montreal’s Transit System,” The Montreal
Gazette, Sept. 6, 2007, n.p., accessed online.
Chunovic, L., “DHS OIG Reports on TSA Readiness for
Mass Transit and Passenger Rail Emergencies,”, Apr. 5, 2010, accessed online.
Cohen, L.E. and M. Felson, “Social Change and Crime Rate
Trends: A Routine Activity Approach,” American Sociological Review, Vol. 44, 1979, pp. 585–605.
Cornish, D.B. and R.V. Clarke, The Reasoning Criminal,
Springer–Verlag, New York, N.Y., 1986.
“CTA To Add Security Cameras to Trains,” CBS Chicago,
Jan. 12, 2011, accessed at http://chicago.cbslocal.
[accessed on May 8, 2011].
Fink, C.N.Y., “Antiterrorism Security and Surface Transportation Systems: Review of Case Studies and Current Tactics,” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the
Transportation Research Board, No. 1822, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2003, pp. 9–17.
Fleming, N., “Smart CCTV Learns to Spot Suspicious
Types,” New Scientist, Dec. 15, 2009, n.p., accessed
Gilbert, S., “Surveillance Technologies: Electronically
Leveraging Transit Security Forces,” The Police Chief,
July 1995, p. 22.
Goldgof, D.B., D. Sapper, J. Candamo, and M. Shreve, Evaluation of Smart Video for Transit Event Detection, Project BD549-49, Final Report, Florida Department of
Transportation Research Center, Tallahassee, June 2009.
Gordon, M.T. and S. Riger, The Female Fear, The Free Press,
New York, N.Y., 1989.
Grata, J., “Port Authority Gets Grant for Anti-Terror Measures; $928,250 Award Is Among Largest in U.S.,” Pittsburgh Post–Gazette, May 22, 2007, n.p., accessed online.
Jenkins, B.M. and B.R. Butterworth, Selective Screening of
Rail Passengers, MTI Report 06-07. Mineta Transportation Institute, 2007.
Guerrero, P., Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office, Statement in Testimony
Before the Subcommittee on Banking, Housing, and
Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, GAO 02-1075T, Sep. 18,
Jenkins, B.M., Protecting Public Surface Transportation
Against Terrorism and Serious Crime: An Executive
Overview, MTI Report 01-14, Mineta Transportation
Institute, San Jose, Calif., 2001.
Gural, A., “Trolley Stabbing Video Aids in Arrest,” Security
Director News, June 2006, pp. 12–13.
Hackney, D., “Crime in Philadelphia,” Mass Transit, Mar.
1978, pp. 14–15.
Halbfinger, D.M., “As Surveillance Cameras Peer, Some
Wonder if They Also Pry,” The New York Times, Feb. 22,
1998, p. 1:1–2.
Harding, M., “Police Looking into Rash of Sheraden Vandalism,” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, May 4, 2010, n.p.,
accessed online.
Harwood, M., “DC Metro to Add Surveillance Cameras to
System,” Security Management, Sep. 29, 2009, n.p.,
accessed online.
Hawley, K., F.J. Cilluffo, and S.L. Cardash, Stopping Terror
In and On Its Tracks, HPSI Commentary 11, Homeland
Security Policy Institute, the George Washington University, Washington, D.C., Mar. 31, 2010.
“Hebrew University Invention Provides Quicker, More
Efficient Use of Surveillance Videos,” news releaser
from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, June 8, 2010
[Online]. Available:
aspx?ItemId=7785&CultureCode=en [accessed June
11, 2010].
Hecker, J.Z., Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office, Statement in Testimony
Before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Highways, Transit and Pipelines,
House of Representatives, GAO-06-557T, Mar. 29, 2006.
Howarth, F., Rail Security Measures in EU Countries,
Faulkner Information Services, Pennsauken, N.J., 2007.
“India: Maoists Deny Role in Train Crash,” The New York
Times, June 1, 2010, p. A6:5.
Interactive Elements Inc., Guidelines for the Effective Use of
Uniformed Transit Police and Security Personnel, TRB
Project F-6, Final Report, Transportation Research
Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.,
May 1997.
Irons, M.E.,” Security Cameras Come to Trolleys,” The Boston Globe, Oct. 17, 2009, n.p., accessed online.
Issue Paper 23, Canadian Urban Transport Association.
Toronto, ON, Canada, June 2007.
Jenkins, B.M. and L.N. Gersten, Protecting Public Surface
Transportation Against Terrorism and Serious Crime:
Continuing Research on Best Security Practices, MTI
Report 01-07, Mineta Transportation Institute, San Jose,
Calif., 2001.
Jones, S., “Parking Aligns With Protection,” Security Management, Dec. 2006, pp. 69–74.
Kronfeld, M.J., “DHS Announces Critical Infrastructure
Grants,”, May 25, 2010, accessed
LaVigne, N.G., “Safe Transport: Security by Design on the
Washington Metro,” In Preventing Mass Transit Crime,
R.V. Clarke, Ed., Criminal Justice Press, Monsey, N.Y.,
1996, pp. 163–197.
Leung, L., “El Mirage First Ariz. City to OK Traffic Cameras at Rail Crossings,” The Arizona Republic, Jan. 9,
2009, n.p., accessed online.
Levine, M., “Getting the Picture: Surveillance Cameras Are
on Their Way…Will They Make Pittsburgh Any Safer”,
Feb. 28, 2008 [Online]. Available: [accessed June 19, 2010].
“London Police Investigation Timeline,” Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) News Online, August 11, 2005.
bombing/investigation_timeline.html [accessed May 8,
Loukaitou-Sideris, A., B.D. Taylor, and C.N.Y. Fink, “Rail
Transit Security in an International Context: Lessons
from Four Cities,” Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 41, No. 6
(July), 2006, pp. 727–748.
Loukaitou-Sideris, A., A. Bornstein, C. Fink, L. Samuels,
and S. Gerami, How of Ease Women’s Fears of Transportation Environments: Case Studies and Best Practices,
MTI Report 09-01, Mineta Transportation Institute, San
Jose, Calif., Oct. 2009.
Maier, M.P., TCRP Synthesis of Transit Practice 36: Identifying
and Reducing Fraudulent Third Party Tort Claims Against
Public Transit Agencies, Transportation Research Board,
National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2000.
Maier, M.P. and J. Malone, TCRP Synthesis of Transit Practice
38: Electronic Surveillance Technology on Transit Vehicles,
Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2001.
Making Transportation Tunnels Safe and Secure, TCRP
Report 86/NCHRP Report 525, Vol. 12, Transportation
Research Board of the National Academies, Washington,
D.C., 2006.
Marcoux, S., “Train Install Tracks Events,” Security Director New, Jan. 2006, p. 14.
“Mayor Daley, Transit Officials Announce that Every CTA
Rail Station Will Have One or More Safety Cameras by
End of May,” CTA press release dated May 21, 2010,
accessed from CTA website, press releases at
“Metrolink Engineers Probed in Blocked Video,” UTU:
New, reprinted from the Los Angeles Times, May 24,
2010, accessed on June 9, 2010, from
“Metrolink Says Engineers Tampering with Cameras,” May
24, 2010, accessed on June 9, 2010, from
“More Traffic, More Surveillance: Intercity Transit To
Install Nearly 500 Cameras on Its Buses,” Security Director News, Oct. 2007, p. 10.
Moving Forward: Making Transit Safer for Women, Transit
Commission/Metro Action Committee on Public Violence Against Women and Children and the Metro
Toronto Police Force, Toronto, ON, Canada, 1989.
Myhre, M.L. and F. Rosso, “Designing for Security in
Météor: A Projected New Métro Line in Paris,” in Preventing Mass Transit Crime, Criminal Justice Press,
Monsey, N.Y., 1996, pp. 199–216.
Nakanishi, Y., TCRP Synthesis of Transit Practice 80: Transit Security Update, Transportation Research Board of
the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2009.
Namako, T., “MTA: Lockheed Martin Screwed Up on Subway Security,” The New York Post, June 24, 2009, n.p.,
accessed online.
Needle J.A. and R.M. Cobb, TCRP Synthesis of Transit
Practice 21: Improving Transit Security, Transportation
Research Board of the National Academies, Washington,
D.C., 1997.
O’Connor, J., Vice President and Chief of Police, Amtrak
Police Department, Statement Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, April
21, 2010 (accessed online at
newsroom/record.cfm?id=324040) and a press release
from the office of Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-NJ).
Peterman, D.R., Passenger Rail Security: Overview of
Issues, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., May 26, 2005.
“Philadelphia Police Make Arrest in Subway Hammer
Attack Caught on Tape,”, Sept. 10, 2008.
Policing Urban Mass Transit Systems (A National Evaluation Program, Phase 1 Report by the MITRE Corp),
LEAA, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., 1979.
“Prague Deploys Sensors and Camera System to Detect
Attacks on Metro,” CTK National News Wire, May 14,
2010, accessed online.
Resnick, G., “Detecting Intruders in Railway Tunnels,” Government Security News, June 2009, pp. 1, 12.
Rivera, R. and M.M. Grynbaum, “Lack of Video Slows Hunt
for a Killer in the Subway,” The New York Times, Mar. 29,
2010, n.p., accessed online.
Ronetti, N. and C. Dambra, “Railway Station Surveillance:
The Italian Case,” In Multimedia Video-Based Surveillance Systems: Requirements, Issues and Solutions, G.L.
Foresti, P. Mähönen, and C.S. Regazzoni, Eds., Kluwer
Academic Publishers, Boston, Mass., 2000, pp. 13–20.
Runk, D., “Video: Car Doesn’t Slow Before Mich. Rail
Crossing,” Yahoo News, July 10, 2009, n.p., accessed
Schulz, D. and S. Gilbert, “Women and Transit Security: A
New Look at an Old Issue,” in Women’s Travel Issues
Second National Conference, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., 1996.
“Security Cameras Installed at San Diego Trolley Station,”
Feb. 12, 2006, accessed online at…
archive_2422.htm. Jan. 1, 2010.
Sherbert, E., “ACE Getting Federal Help to Improve Safety,”
Aug. 5, 2005, accessed at, Jan. 1, 2010.
Silmalis, L., “Mobile Spy for Railway Tracks,” Sunday Telegraph (Australia), May 21, 2006, p. 19.
Simonite, T., “Surveillance Software Knows What a Camera
Sees,” Technology Review, June 1, 2010, n.p., accessed
Simony, M. and P. Loesche, “A Strategy Against Fire,” Railway Gazette International, Jan. 1989, pp. 23–26.
Smeets, M.E. and M.A. Jacobs, “Feel Safe, Be Safe on Public
Transport,” The Police Chief, Sep. 1996, pp. 32–33.
“Sophisticated Surveillance Planned for DC Rail Corridor,”
Government Security News, Nov. 2007, p. 44.
Sound Transit Long-Range Plan Update, Issue Paper N. 4:
SENIOR 522 Corridor HCT Assessment, Final Report to
Sound Transit, 2005.
Spielman, F., “Surveillance Cameras to be Installed at All
Chicago Rail Stations,” The Chicago Sun-Times, May 24,
2010, n.p., accessed online.
“Status of METRO Investigation on Jan. 5 Incident,”
METRO News Release, Jan. 9, 2009, accessed online.
Stelter, L., “Moscow Aftermath: Will the U.S. Step Up Mass
Transit Security for Good?” Security Director News,
Apr. 5, 2010, n.p., accessed online.
Stelter, L., “High-Def in the Classroom,” Security Director
News, Mar. 2, 2010, n.p., accessed online.
Stelter, L., “Transit Officials React to Video of Officers
Standing By as Girl Is Beaten,” Security Director News,
Feb. 22, 2010, n.p., accessed online.
Stelter, L., “Calgary: Visibility Is Key To Policing Any Transit
System,” Security Director News, May 2009, pp. 11, 12.
Stelter, L., “Major Commuter Line Gets $3.8M Security
Upgrade,” Security Director News, Sep. 30, 2008, n.p.,
accessed online.
STM. Contract Signing for the Procurement of Montreal’s
Metro cars. New Cars Introduced into Service Starting in
2014.” STM press release dated Oct. 22, 2010, accessed on
May 8, 2011 at new cars.htm.
Surette, R., “The Thinking Eye: Pros and Cons of Second
Generation CCTV Systems,” Policing: An International
Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Vol. 28, No.
1, 2007, pp. 152–173.
“Train Stops Short of Woman on Tracks,” AOL News, Nov.
10, 2009, accessed online.
Trench, S., T. Oc, and S. Tiesdell, “Safer Cities for Women:
Perceived Risks and Planning Measures,” Town Planning
Review, Vol. 63, No. 3, 1992, pp. 279–293.
Wallace, R.R., D.A. Rodriguez, C. White, and J. Levine,
“Who Noticed, Who Cares? Passenger Reactions to
Transit Safety Measures,” Transportation Research
Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board,
No. 1666, Transportation Research Board, National
Research Council, Washington, D.C., 1999, pp. 133–138.
Weiss, M. and D. Mangan, “Beware of Sack Rats: FBI,” The
New York Post, June 8, 2010, p. 22.
Westerman, S., “Thrown under the Bus,” American Police
Beat, Apr. 2010, n.p., accessed online.
Wilkinson, K., “Pittsburgh Seeks to Deter, Record Crime
with More Cameras,” Government Technology, Apr. 7,
2010, n.p., accessed online.
Wilson, J.M., B.A. Jackson, M. Eisman, P. Steinberg, and
K.J. Riley, Securing America’s Passenger-Rail Systems,
RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif., 2007.
Surface Transportation Security Priority Assessment,
March 2010, report released by the White House, Washington, D.C., April 2, 2010.
Wood, D.B., “In BART Murder Case, Police Brutality, Video
Evidence on Trial,” The Christian Science Monitor, June
10, 2010, n.p., accessed online.
Sweeney, C., “Video: Baby Has Miracle Escape After Pram
Rolls Onto Train Tracks,” Times (London), Oct. 16, 2009.
Young, V.D., “Fear of Victimization and Victimization Rates
Among Women: A Paradox?” Justice Quarterly, Vol. 9,
No. 3 (September), 1992, pp. 420–441.
Terrorism in Surface Transportation, Report 96-1, Mineta
Transportation Institute, San Jose, Calif., 1996.
The Police Journal (Great Britain), July 1985, pp. 265–266.
Wilson, J.Q. and G.L. Kelling, “Broken Windows: The
Police and Neighborhood Safety,” Atlantic Monthly, Mar.
1982, pp. 29–38.
Balog, J.N., A.N. Schwartz, and B.C. Doyle, Transit Security Procedures Guide, Federal Transit Administration, U.S.
Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., 1994.
This FTA guide provides a systems approach to transit
security planning and implementation, provides procedures
for immediate and follow-up responses to incidents, and
highlights a number of common transit security problems as
well as defensive actions systems can employ to minimize
those problems.
Balog, J.N., A.N. Schwartz, and B.C. Doyle, Transit System
Security Program Planning Guide, Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington,
D.C., 1994.
At the time of publication, the FTA encouraged but now
mandates that all transit agencies develop and implement a
system security plan. Although aspects of the document are
no longer policy, the guide contains a useful bibliography of
about 200 items on transit security.
Barbeau, S., M. Labrador, P. Winters, and N.L. Georggi,
Enhancing Transit Safety and Security with Wireless Detection and Communication Technologies, Final Report BD549
RPWO # 45 for the Florida Department of Transportation,
Tampa, Fla., National Center for Transit Research, Center for
Urban Transportation Research, University of Florida, 2008.
Report on a project to develop a scalable, real-time intrusion detection and remote notification system using wireless
sensor networks; it is an alternative or supplement to traditional wired security systems for protecting such areas and
facilities as garages, tunnels, and yards.
Bennett, T. and L. Gelsthorpe, Public Attitudes Towards
CCTV in Public Places, Studies on Crime Prevention, Vol.
5, No. 1, 1996, pp. 72–90.
When asked to rank desired crime prevention strategies
that included CCTV, more police officers patrolling on foot,
or brighter street lights at night, CCTV ranked third.
Black, T., Cameras Make Portland Buses More Secure, The
American City & County, Oct. 1998, p. S18.
In 1987, Portland, Oregon, Tri-Met began its use of surveillance technology by equipping three buses with three
cameras each. In the mid-1990s, the agency equipped 40
buses with three cameras each. Tri-Met has been equipping
buses, rail cars, and facilities with digital cameras. The digital system provides sharp, focused images; good color; and
the ability to manipulate data. The cameras are easily visible,
and signage alerts riders of the cameras’ presence. In addition to serving as a crime deterrent and providing potential
evidence in the event of criminal proceedings, cameras can
prevent civil litigation or help a transit agency win a claim.
Bloom, R.F., Closed Circuit Television in Transit Stations:
Application Guidelines, Report ED-80-1, Dunlap and Associates, Inc., Cambridge, Mass., 1980.
Provides guidelines on preventive security measures and
surveillance techniques applicable for transit stations.
Chace, R.W., An Overview of the Guidelines for Closed Circuit
Television (CCTV) for Public Safety and Community Policing,
Security Industry Association, Alexandria, Va., 2001.
Developed by the International Association of Chiefs of
Police (IACP) in conjunction with the Security Industry Association as part of the IACP Private Sector Liaison Committee,
this primer provides guidance to law enforcement in the use
of overt cameras in public areas for public safety purposes.
Clarke, R.V., Ed. Preventing Mass Transit Crime, Criminal
Justice Press., Monsey, N.Y., 1996.
This book contains academic studies by a variety of authors
who considered the use of crime prevention through environmental design and other tactics in transit environments.
Cozens, P., R. Neale, D. Hillier, and J. Whitaker, Tackling
Crime and Fear of Crime While Waiting at Britain’s Railway Stations, Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 7, No.
3, 2004, pp. 23–41.
A study of passengers’ fear at stations using Quick Time
Virtual Reality, an interactive environmental stimulus for
gaining insights into passengers’ fear of crime. Visibility at
stations was identified as a crucial factor in determining fear
of crime. The design of the station’s shelter is analyzed as an
example of how CPTED is being implemented on railway
stations by Valley Lines (Wales and Borders Trains) on its
network in South Wales (UK).
DeGeneste, H.I. and J.P. Sullivan, Policing Transportation
Facilities, Chares C. Thomas, Springfield, Ill., 1994.
Although somewhat dated, this book remains an excellent
primer on the problems confronting police at airports, waterfront terminals, and rail and transit facilities. DeGeneste,
the PANY&NJ retired director of public safety and superintendent of police, and Sullivan, a Los Angeles Sheriff’s
Department supervisory officer who has spent much of his
career in transit policing, provide chapters on commuter
rail and subway crime, terrorism, and problems associated
with homelessness and mentally ill persons congregating in
transportation facilities.
Denver RTD Embraces Camera Surveillance, Transit Policing, Spring 1995, p. 28.
Based on a pilot program that documented a decade of
crime and vandalism on its buses, the RTD equipped its light
rail vehicles with surveillance cameras.
Eder, A., After September 11, 2001: How Transit Agencies Prepare for the Threat of Terrorism, Transportation
Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research
Board, No. 1927, Transportation Research Board of the
National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 92–100.
This paper identifies pre-9/11 transit security planning,
showing how the attacks changed the way government and
transit agencies address security concerns; includes an
analysis of post-1/99 security measures adopted by the FTA,
New York City Transit, WMATA, and BART. A case study
of Tri-Met looks particularly at the agency’s responses to
threats facing transit systems.
Egan, T., Police Surveillance of Streets Turn to Video Cameras and Listening Devices, The New York Times, Feb. 7,
1996, p. A12:1–2.
With the current focus on cameras surveilling city streets,
this article is a reminder that the technology has been used in
this way for more than a decade.
Fink, C.N.Y., Antiterrorism Security and Surface Transportation Systems: Review of Case Studies and Current Tactics,
Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1822, 2003, Transportation
Research Board of the National Academies, Washington,
D.C., pp. 9–17.
Brief case studies of the bombing attacks in the London
and Paris subway systems and the chemical gas attacks in
the Tokyo subway system; recommends as cost-effective
options for transit systems the use of CPTED, surveillance
systems (particularly CCTV), training and exercises, and
developing closer relationships with local, state, and federal
Gilbert, S., Surveillance Technologies: Electronically Leveraging Transit Security Forces, The Police Chief, July 1995,
p. 22.
Overview of surveillance measures employed by a variety of transit agencies.
Goldgof, D.B., D. Sapper, J. Candamo, and M. Shreve, Evaluation of Smart Video for Transit Event Detection, Project
BD549-49, Final Report, Florida Department of Transportation Research Center, Tallahassee, June 2009.
Intended to develop an evaluation framework for commercial video analytics systems, this report identifies strengths,
weaknesses, areas of future research, and surveyed video
analytics products. Product capabilities were identified by
working with vendors and analyzing their literature. Use
of analytic technology in Florida transit agencies was analyzed; a survey among the largest agencies found low use of
analytics, skepticism, and poor knowledge of the technology and its capabilities. Conclusions include an evaluation
framework for analytics technology, including annotation
guidelines, scoring metrics, and implementation of the metrics in the scoring software.
Gordon, R., Half of Muni Surveillance Cameras Fail in
Audit, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 29, 2009, n.p., accessed
The onboard video surveillance equipment on more than
half of San Francisco Muni’s buses and trains was not fully
operational when the transit agency ordered an emergency
audit after the stabbing of an 11-year-old boy on a city bus.
The entire fleet, with the exception of cable cars and streetcars,
is outfitted with cameras, but the inspection found that of the
approximately 960 vehicles with surveillance devices, 22%
were deemed completely nonfunctional and an additional 30%
only partially functional. The audit found a range of problems,
including blurry images, vandalized cameras, poor sound,
broken data packs, bad cables, and inoperable recorders.
George, B. and N. Whatford, The Regulation of Transport
Security Post 9/11, Security Journal, Vol. 20, 2007, pp.
This paper explores regulatory initiatives that have
emerged in aviation, maritime, and other forms of transport
since 9/11.
Greenberger, M., The Need for Closed Circuit Television in
Mass Transit Systems, Law Enforcement Executive Forum,
Vol. 6, No. 1, 2006, pp. 151–155.
This paper advocates use of video surveillance by transit
systems because they can be used anywhere, can be overt or
covert, and can be monitored in real time or for later review.
Hess, D.B., Security on Buses and Trains, Journal of Security Education, Vol. 1, No. 4, 2006, pp. 119–132.
This paper reviews research into protecting transit facilities and recommends research on technological innovations
to prevent and thwart attacks, particularly those that begin to
physically and technologically “close” public transit systems
and reduce unrestricted access.
Identification of Cost-Effective Methods to Improve Security
at Transit Operating/Maintenance Facilities and Passenger
Stations, FTA-FL-26-71054-03, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, Washington,
D.C., July 2006.
This report reviews actions taken since the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks by six transit agencies to increase
security using cost-effective methods. It contains a summary of the consequences of terrorism on public transportation systems, and provides a literature review. Case studies/
best practices include those employed at Denver’s Regional
Transit District (RTD), the Washington Metropolitan Area
Transit Authority (WMATA), the Charlotte Area Transit
System (CATS), the Massachusetts Bay Transportation
Authority (MBTA), the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
Jenkins, B.M. and B.R. Butterworth, Selective Screening
of Rail Passengers, MTI Report 06-07, Norman Y. Mineta
International Institute for Surface Transportation Policy
Studies Institute, San Jose, Calif., 2007.
Focusing on terrorist risks confronting public transportation, this report explores how different forms of passenger screening, and particularly selective screening, can be
implemented to reduce those risks.
Jenkins, B.M., Protecting Surface Transportation Systems
and Patrons from Terrorist Activities: Case Studies of
Best Security Practices and a Chronology of Attacks, MTI
Report 97-04, Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for
Surface Transportation Policy Studies Institute, San Jose,
Calif., 1997.
The first phase of a study by the Mineta Institute on
behalf of the U.S.DOT; this report includes case studies of
transportation security in Paris, Atlanta, New York City, and
by Amtrak; security surveys of nine additional U.S. cities,
and an annotated bibliography of transit safety/security- and
transit terrorism-related works.
Jenkins, B.M., Protecting Public Surface Transportation
Against Terrorism and Serious Crime: An Executive Overview, MTI Report 01-014, Norman Y. Mineta International
Institute for Surface Transportation Policy Studies Institute,
San Jose, Calif., 2001.
This report states that for those who are attempting to kill
in quantity and kill indiscriminately, surface transportation
offers the ideal target; however, because of the public nature
of mass transit, there is often little security with no checkpoints (unlike airports). It addresses key questions as why
the level of vigilance in airports and related facilities is so
different from expectations on public surface transportation
Jenkins, B.M. and L. Gersten, Protecting Public Surface
Transportation Against Terrorism and Serious Crime: Continuing Research on Best Security Practices, MTI Report
01-07, Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for Surface
Transportation Policy Studies Institute, San Jose, Calif.,
This report continues earlier studies by Jenkins and associates on best practices to stem terrorist assaults on surface
transportation systems worldwide. This study examines
security practices in effect at public surface transportation
facilities in Tokyo and London—both targets of terrorist attacks—and in the San Francisco Bay Area and the
Santa Clara Valley of California. It updates the chronology contained in the previous report and adds an annotated
Leung, S.K., A Review of Safety Strategies of Mass Transit Railway in Hong Kong, Dissertation submitted in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for Degree of Master of Arts
at the University of Hong Kong, June 1999. http://sunzi.lib. Accessed Nov. 18,
This dissertation reviews safety strategies of Hong
Kong’s Mass Transit Railway Corporation based on patronage and coverage of the dense urban area, its comprehensive
Safety Management System and the high level of safety on
the system. Despite an absence of accident-based fatalities,
the study concludes that if an accident were to occur in an
underground section of the Mass Transit Railway, it is likely
that fatalities would number in the thousands.
LaVigne, N.G., Safe Transport: Security by Design on the
Washington Metro, in Preventing Mass Transit Crime, Ronald V. Clarke, Ed., Criminal Justice Press, Monsey, N.Y.,
1996, pp. 163–197.
This article reviews the WMATA safety and security
design features that incorporated CPTED principles and
electronic video surveillance since the transit system’s
inception in 1976, leading many at the time to consider it the
safest subway system in the world.
Longmore-Etheridge, A., Security Works Minding the
Road, Security Management, Sep. 1995, pp. 24–25.
In a use of video surveillance that is today taken for
granted, in 1994 an onboard bus surveillance system was
instrumental in the capture and prosecution of an armed
man who had hidden in the bus and forced the driver to take
him to downtown Savannah, Georgia.
Loukaitou-Sideris, A., A. Bornstein, C. Fink, L. Samuels,
and S. Gerami, How of Ease Women’s Fears of Transportation Environments: Case Studies and Best Practices, MTI
Report 09-01, Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for
Surface Transportation Policy Studies Institute, San Jose,
Calif., Oct. 2009.
This report summarizes research on women’s transit fears
and how safety concerns influence travel decisions. Through
a literature review, focus groups, and questionnaires, it
identifies women’s perspectives and needs regarding transit safety; through a survey of 131 U.S transit operators,
assesses if the needs are being met and describes programs
and best practices from the United States and overseas that
address women’s concerns. Among the findings are women
passengers have distinct travel needs that not well addressed
by transit agencies.
Loukaitou-Sideris, A., B.D. Taylor, and C.N.Y. Fink, Rail
Transit Security in an International Context: Lessons from
Four Cities, Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 41, No. 6, 2006, pp.
This article draws from interviews with rail transit
security officials, architects, and engineers responsible for
designing and operating systems in London, Paris, Tokyo,
and Madrid. The interviewees report on a mix of strategies
to balance the trade-offs between security and openness
and attractiveness of their systems, making coordination
between transit agencies and police/intelligence agencies a
crucial component of security planning.
Luczak, M., Smart Security Strategies, Railway Age, Apr.,
2006, pp. 46–47.
According to LU Managing Director Tim O’Toole, you
have to invest in people and rely on them; you have to invest
in technology, but do not rely on it. O’Toole offered attendees of the second-annual Railway Security Forum & Expo
lessons learned, emphasizing the importance of communications, not just technology. To secure LU, the agency is
upgrading its 300 cameras from analog to digital and will
eventually have 12,000 installed.
Mackay, D., The Changing Nature of Public-Space CCTV,
Security Journal, Vol. 19 (2006), pp. 128–142.
Public-space CCTV has been regarded as a crime prevention tool that assists in reducing crime and has been scrutinized for its potential to infringe civil liberties. Research
has concentrated on trying to fit its outputs into a matrix to
make sense of the problems with recorded crime figures and
overlap with other crime reduction measures, resulting in
inadequate research into the activities and outputs of camera
control rooms. As a result, public-space cameras systems
now participate in activities than their original task of assisting the police.
Maier, P. and J. Malone, TCRP Synthesis 38: Electronic
Surveillance Technology on Transit Vehicles: A Synthesis of
Transit Practices, Transportation Research Board, National
Research Council, Washington, D.C., 2001.
Based on questionnaire data, a literature review, and case
studies, this report reviews existing and emerging CCTV
technologies for the transit environment. Considerable technical information is presented; the descriptions of systems
and terminology are particularly useful for those with little
knowledge of the technical aspects and requirements of
installing video systems.
Műller, C. and D. Boos, Zurich Main Railway Station: A
Typology of Public CCTV Systems, Surveillance & Society,
Vol. 2, No. 2 & 3, 2004, pp. 161–176.
This article presents a case study of the use of CCTV
at the Zurich railroad station, the largest in Switzerland,
as it is used by passengers, shoppers, and those defined as
Myhre, M.L. and F. Rosso, Designing for Security in
Météor: A Projected New Métro Line in Paris, in Preventing
Mass Transit Crime, Ronald V. Clarke, Ed., Criminal Justice
Press, Monsey, N.Y., 1996, pp. 199–216.
This article compares security features in the plan for
Météor, the new Paris Métro line, with those of the existing
system and with WMATA and the Hong Kong subway; it
found that Météor included a wider range of SCP measures
than existing Métros, WMATA, or Hong Kong, and that its
security features were consistent with principles of CPTED.
Nakanishi, Y., TCRP Synthesis 80: Transit Security Update:
A Synthesis of Transit Practices, Transportation Research
Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2009.
An updating of the Needle and Cobb’s 1997 Improving
Transit Security (TCRP Synthesis 21), this report covers
traditional crime and terrorism, which was not included
in the earlier report. Based on a survey of transit agencies,
case studies, and a literature review, it updates information
on security measures and practices; perception of crime,
including terrorism; and counterterrorism security measures and practices, including surveillance and intrusion
detection policies.
Nieto, M., K. Johnston-Dodds, and C.W. Simmons, Public
and Private Applications of Video Surveillance and Biometric Technologies, CRB-02-006, California Research
Bureau, Sacramento, 2002.
In a survey of CCTV and biometric security systems
domestically and internationally, the researchers found that
an increasing number of cities, schools, transit districts and
public housing are deploying surveillance systems. An earlier (1997) survey found that only 13 city police departments
in the country used surveillance systems, primarily to monitor pedestrian traffic in downtown and residential districts,
but that since then, technological advances, declining costs,
and heightened security concerns following the 9/11 attacks
have led to rapid diffusion of both surveillance and biometric technologies. Also discusses applications and legal issues
surrounding the technologies.
Nieto, M., Public Video Surveillance: Is It an Effective
Crime Prevention Tool? CRB-97-005, California Research
Bureau, Sacramento, June 1997.
This report examines uses of surveillance by public and
private entities to prevent and discourage crime, including
law enforcement practices, conditions which warrant video
surveillance, legal and constitutional implications of using
video surveillance, and tentative conclusions on whether the
technology has benefited public housing, transit authorities,
and educational institutions.
Plant, J.F. and R.R. Young, Securing and Protecting America’s Railroad System: U.S. Railroad and Opportunities for
Terrorist Threats. A Report Prepared For Citizens For Rail
Safety, Inc., The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg,
June 2007.
Suggests ways public policy and rail operations can be
better directed to meet the challenges of terrorist activity.
One of the few studies that looks at both passenger and
freight rail, recommendations include congressional action
to pass comprehensive rail security legislation and to establish a national commission on rail security. Other recommendations include better coordination among the many law
enforcement agencies involved in rail protection, enhanced
training for railroad employees, and greater emphasis on the
threats and liability issues presented by trespassers.
Platt, J.F., ed., Handbook of Transportation Policy and
Administration, Jeremy F. Platt, Ed., CRC Press, Boca
Raton, Fla., 2007.
This 32-chapter handbook covers a wide range of issues
facing transit managers. Section 5 includes six chapters on
security and protection of transit systems. Of these, two
discuss the roles of the Department of Defense and the
Department of Homeland Security in rail security, and one
considers issues facing transit managers since the Madrid
and London transit system terrorist bombings.
Polzin, S.E., Security Considerations in Transportation
Planning (A White Paper for Southern Transportation Center), Center for Urban Transportation Research, University
of South Florida, Tampa, no year.
This report explores the implications of enhanced security concerns on transportation planning with the expectation that security concerns will significantly influence
how transportation facilities and services are provided. It
is intended to foster discussion and facilitate accommodating issues such as enhanced environmental concern, social
equity, evolving technologies and multimodal considerations, the inclusion of demand management strategies, and
various other new goals and considerations.
Ratcliffe, J., Problem-Oriented Guides for Police: Video
Surveillance of Public Places, Response Guides Series No.
4, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S.
Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., 2006.
A primer on the use of video as a problem-oriented policing response to crime problems; most of the evaluations are
from Great Britain but there is a description of cameras outside the central train station in Oslo, Norway, to combat drug
Redmon, J., Atlanta Seeks to Add 500 Surveillance Cameras, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Oct. 24, 2009, n.p.,
accessed online.
City officials were seeking $13.7 million in federal funds
for cameras after a series of high-profile crimes; not transit-specific but addresses issues that are relevant to transit
Roman, A., Securing Rail Systems from the Ground Up,
Metro Magazine, Apr. 2009, pp. 40–43.
This article provides a brief review of how Austin’s Capital Metro and Phoenix-based Valley Metro were able to integrate CPTED and surveillance into their systems beginning
with their initial design phases.
Sahm, C., Hard Won Lessons: Transit Security. New York:
Safe Cities Project, The Manhattan Institute for Policy
Research in conjunction with the Police Institute-Rutgers,
Newark, N.J., 2006.
Based on conference presentations in 2005 that brought
together law enforcement officials to share best practices
on transit security, this collection includes material from
presenters Sir Ian Johnston, Chief Constable of the British
Transport Police; Jeroen Weimar, Director of Policing and
Enforcement for the London Transport System; and officials
from NJT Police, Amtrak, the PANY&NJ, and DHS.
Sanderson, C., A. Bigdeli, T.S., S. Chen, E. Berglund, and
B.C. Lovell, Intelligent CCTV for Mass Transport Security:
Challenges and Opportunities for Video and Face Processing, Electronic Letters on Computer Vision and Image Analysis, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2007, pp. 30–41.
As a result of the number of cameras installed, many
sites have abandoned human monitoring and only record
for investigations. A sought-after capability is “face in the
crowd” recognition in public spaces, including transit centers. This paper evaluates approaches to face recognition,
proposes adaptations and modifications, and discusses legal
challenges surrounding its implementation.
Schulz, D.M. and S. Gilbert, Developing Strategies to Fight
Crime and Fear, The Police Chief, July 1995, pp. 20–27.
Based on a TRB study into deployment of uniformed
and plainclothes officers on transit properties, this article
provides an overview of policing techniques and strategies
employed by a number of large and small transit agencies.
Scott, D., Policing Regional Mass Transit: The SEPTA System, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Vol. 78, No. 7, July
2009, 10 pp., accessed online.
This case study, written for law enforcement professionals,
outlines the steps taken by SEPTA to establish policies to maximum safety and security of its passengers, employees, and the
public and to protect the transit agency from loss or damage.
Smith, M.J., Addressing the Security Needs of Women Passengers on Public Transport, Security Journal, Vol. 21, 2008,
This article presents a framework for analyzing security
needs of women passengers, summarizing research in four
areas: (1) women’s reported victimization, (2) calculating
the risk of being a crime victim, (3) the rationality of women
s fears of crime and disorder, and (4) the need for crime prevention measures to address these security-related issues.
The “whole journey” approach highlights aspects of the trip
for women that require special attention.
Track and Tunnel Intrusion Detection: White Paper, Vidient
Systems, Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., 2009.
Report on the technological capabilities required to provide track and tunnel intrusion detection, including immediate notification and assessment and full-time protection.
Zurawski, N. and S. Czerwinski, Crime, Maps and Meaning:
Views from a Survey on Safety and CCTV in Germany, Surveillance & Society, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2008, pp. 51–72.
After examining what people knew about video technology and what meaning they ascribed to it, this article found
that perception of “dangerous spaces” has resulted in CCTV
being seen as suitable for safeguarding crime hot spots.
Although the authors reject the expansion of CCTV, they
view it as a way to counter crime in particular settings.
Synthesis Questionnaire
Rail Security: Right-of Way Surveillance and Vehicle Security Cameras
A Transportation Research Board Synthesis Study
Project purpose: This TCRP synthesis project (J-7/SA-24) is studying the use of surveillance systems in rail transit,
including how and where surveillance is used, the types of equipment used, who monitors the video, policies on access to
the images and chain of custody, and use of the images for criminal, civil, or agency disciplinary prosecutions. Questions
ask you to evaluate the value of surveillance in a variety of situations and from where funds for your system were obtained.
The questions address many issues; given the wide variety of circumstances and systems, not all questions may be appropriate
for all agencies. If a question is not relevant to your system, leave it blank. If you have questions, please contact the principal
investigator, Dr. Dorothy M. Schulz at [email protected] or at [email protected] Answers are confidential to the extent
that information will not be linked to your agency without your approval or unless you have been selected as a case study
agency. But please identify yourself and your agency so that in our report we are able generalize about agencies based on size,
mode, geography, or other group factors.
The case studies will focus on agencies whose use of surveillance will be particularly helpful to general managers, police/
security chiefs, and safety managers to learn how they can put technology to best use. If your agency is using surveillance in
innovative ways that would benefit others, please volunteer as a case study agency. Despite most police/security and safety
personnel being reluctant to volunteer, your participation will permit you to share best practices with peers, including successes but possibly things that did not work as anticipated and that others can learn from.
The final report, to be published by the Transportation Research Board, will be a user-friendly document that will assist all
rail transit agencies. Your answers will help others make important decisions; their answers may be equally helpful to you as
you consider the costs and labor involved in implementing or upgrading surveillance technology to advance the security and
safety of your system by improving your incident management and response capabilities.
Thank you for participating.
INSTRUCTIONS: For multiple choice questions, please check all that apply; fill in answers may be typed directly onto the
question by downloading the document onto your computer. When you have completed it, save it as a new file and follow the
instructions for returning it that appear on the last page. If you are uncomfortable working directly on the computer, download
and print the survey, fill it out, and follow the instructions on the last page for returning it via FAX or regular mail.
Your name and title: ( just type even though there are no lines)_ __________________
Your phone number (remember to include area code):__________________________
Your e-mail address:_____________________________________________________
Full name of your agency:_ _______________________________________________
Does your agency use a video surveillance system?
a. yes
b. no [If no, please go to the last page and answer
two questions in Section F]
To the best of your knowledge, when did your system
introduce video surveillance? [Please specify a year]
Where does your agency use surveillance? [Check all
that apply; here and for all replies, no mark indicates
the choice does not apply to your system]
a. on board vehicles [if yes, please answer b and
a. less than 25%
b. 25–50%
c. 51–75%
d. 76–100%
e. system has no light rail vehicles/trolleys
If less than 75 percent, rank in order of importance the
factors that influenced the choice of those equipped.
(1 is least effective, 5 is most effect, NA indicates
played no role) [place the number after the colon]
b. local demands/politics:_ _____________________
c. enhance perceived customer safety:_____________
d. funds available to retrofitting
existing vehicles:_____________________________
e. new vehicles equipped at purchase:_____________
f. other (please specify):________________________
What percentage of your stations, station platforms,
or shelters has surveillance devices?
If on board vehicles, what percentage of your heavy
rail vehicles has surveillance devices?
a. less than 25%
a. high disorder or crime rate:___________________
0 b. in passenger areas
0 c. in operator/cab area
0 d. stations, station platforms, shelters
0 e. elevators only (whether ADA or all)
0 f. parking facilities
g. along the right-of-way (ROW)
0 0 h. in storage or other yards
0 i. in employee/administrative areas
0 j. other (please specify):_____________________
If on board vehicles what percentage of your light rail
vehicles/trolleys has surveillance devices?
b. 25–50%
c. 51–75%
a. less than 25%
b. 25–50%
c. 51–75%
d. 76–100%
If less than 75 percent, rank in order of importance the
factors that influenced the choice of those equipped (1
is least effective, 5 is most effect, NA indicates played
no role) [place the number after the colon]
a. high disorder or crime rate:___________________
d. 76–100%
b. local demands/politics:_ _____________________
c. enhance perceived customer safety:_____________
e. system has no heavy rail vehicles
If on board vehicles, what percentage of your commuter rail vehicles has surveillance devices?
d. funding available to retrofit existing stations,
platforms, shelters:____________________________
e. new stations, platforms, shelters designed to
accommodate surveillance devices:_ _____________
a. less than 25%
b. 25–50%
f. other (please specify):________________________
c. 51–75%
d. 76–100%
e. system has no commuter rail vehicles
Indicate the types of employee facilities with video
surveillance (i.e., yards, counting room, central control room, agency’s headquarters):
Indicate whether you use video surveillance along
your right-of-way (ROW):
b. no
a. near stations
a. individuals with full police authority
b. transit-system security officers
c. contract agency security officers
d. combined (please explain):________________
e. other (please explain):_ ___________________
b. at grade crossings
c. at interchanges w/other rail systems
If your system is not viewed, what is the reason?
d. in high disorder or crime areas
e. other (please specify):_ ___________________
a. administrative decision based on costs
b . administration decision based on other
considerations (please explain):_ __________
Is your surveillance system: [Check all that apply]
0 a. analog
0 b. digital
0 c. combined/in transition
0 d. uncertain
If those viewing the cameras are police/security
department personnel, are they:
a. yes
If yes, where along the ROW do you use video surveillance: [Check all that apply]
Which options does your surveillance system contain
or utilize: [Check all that apply]
Does your agency archive images?
a. yes
b. no
If yes, for how long are the images retained?
a. 24-hour recording
Who may access the images? [Please list categories
of authorized persons]
b. automatic emergency digital transmission
c. secondary power source
d. auto-start [records only when there is motion]
What procedures are used to maintain/record chain of
custody of images: [check all that apply]
e. low light resolution
f. uncertain
g. other (please specify):_ ___________________
a. sign in/sign out
b. only designated individuals
c. only with another authorized person
d. other (please specify):____________________
Are personnel assigned to view surveillance cameras:
a. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
b. during hours of service only
c. none assigned (go to Question 18)
d. another configuration (please explain):_______
If the system is viewed during any hours of operation,
are those who view the cameras:
a. police/security department personnel
b. rail operations personnel
c. combined
For what purposes does your agency use surveillance? [Check all that apply]
a. crime/vandalism prevention
b. fare collection review/dispute mediation
c. other complaint resolution
d. accident investigation
e. employee monitoring
f. other (please explain):_ ___________________
Questions 24 to 29: On a five-point scale rate how
effective you feel surveillance has been for each. (1 is
least effective, 5 is most effect, NA indicates video not
used for this) [place the number after the colon]
For accident investigation:
For other (if more than one, specify uses):
Have you used surveys or other ways to measure
patron perceptions of security since the surveillance
system was installed?
b. no
a. yes
b. no
b. no
Have you used surveys or other ways to measure
employee perceptions of security since the surveillance system was installed?
a. yes
b. no
a. yes
b. no
Have you been able to demonstrate a reduction in
fraudulent injury or other claims based on your surveillance system?
Thinking how your agency paid for its surveillance
system, indicate the percentage of funds from each
source: (do not indicate actual dollar amounts) [place
the number after the colon]
a. from FTA grant program:_ _________________ %
b. from Homeland Security (DHS):_____________ %
c. from state grants:_________________________ %
If yes, do employees report a higher sense of security?
b. no
a. yes
Has your agency established policies for public access
to surveillance images/records?
a. yes
b. no
If yes, do patrons report a higher sense of security?
0 a. yes
a. yes
Were unions/employee representatives consulted in
the decision to install surveillance technology?
b. no
Does your agency notify patrons that surveillance
cameras are in use?
For employee monitoring:
a. yes
b. no
For other complaint resolution:
a. yes
Have you used evidence from the system in civil cases
or employee disciplinary actions?
For fare collection review/dispute mediation:
Have you or local police agencies used your surveillance images for criminal prosecutions:
For crime/vandalism prevention:
a. yes
b. no
d. from municipal grants:_ ___________________ %
e. from agency funding:______________________ %
f. from vendor funding or grant:_______________ %
g. f rom other (please explain):_ _______________ %
Do plans call for all new vehicles to be equipped
with surveillance cameras when placed into revenue
b. patron areas and operator/cab areas
Are surveillance cameras included in all new station
design plans?
b. no
a. patron areas only
a. yes
b. no
If you know, specify the manufacturer of your equipment. [If more than one, please list in order of the
oldest equipment first, the newest last.]
[If Your System Does Not Use Surveillance Technology
Please Complete This Section.]
If your agency is considering installing a surveillance
system, where? [Check all that apply]
If your agency is not considering installing a surveillance system, why not? [Check all that apply]
a. yes
If the answer to 41 is yes, will be cameras be placed
a. too expensive
b. not necessary
c. legal concerns
d. other (please explain):____________________
0 Yes
0 No
Instructions for returning your questionnaire:
Via E-Mail: Rename the file using “save as” (please add your
agency’s name to the file) and e-mail to Dorothy Schulz at
[email protected] or [email protected]
Via Fax: Address your cover sheet to Dorothy Schulz or
Susan Gilbert at 1-212-490-9611
Via Mail: Send to:
Dorothy M. Schulz, Ph.D.
Director of Transit Security
Interactive Elements Incorporated
a. stations, platforms, shelters
60 East 42nd Street, Suite 2035
b. vehicles
New York, New York 10165
c. both
d. employee/administrative areas
e. along the ROW
f. not considering it
Questionnaire Respondents
Altamont Commuter Express (ACE), Stockton, CA
Amtrak, Washington, DC
Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), San Francisco, CA
Cambria County Transit Authority (Camtran), Johnston, PA
Central Arkansas Regional Transit Authority (CATA),
North Little Rock, AR
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), Charlotte, NC
Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority
(CARTA), Chattanooga, TN
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Chicago, IL
Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT), New
Haven, CT
Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), Camden, New
Detroit Transportation Corp. (The People Mover), Detroit, MI
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GRCTA),
Cleveland, OH
Hampton Road Transit Light Rail (The Tide), Hampton, VA
Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), Jacksonville, FL
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
(LACMTA), Los Angeles, CA
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Boston, MA
Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA), Memphis, TN
Metra, Chicago, IL
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO),
Houston, TX
New Jersey Transit (NTJ), Newark, NJ [includes Hudson–
Bergen Light Rail]
New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA), New
Orleans, LA
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Buffalo,
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, East
Chicago, IN
Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Orange,
Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAAC), Pittsburgh, PA
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANY&NJ),
Jersey City, NJ
Rail Runner Express, Albuquerque, NM
Regional Transportation District (RTD), Denver, CO
Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District
(MetroLink), Moline, IL
Sacramento Regional Transit District (SRTD), Sacramento,
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (The Trolley), San
Diego, CA
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni),
San Francisco, CA
Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA),
Pomona, CA
Sound Transit, Seattle, WA
South Florida Regional Transportation Authority [Tri-Rail]
(SFRTA), Pompano Beach, FL
Metro Transit, Minneapolis, MN
Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon
(Tri-Met) [Metropolitan Area Express—MAX], Portland,
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA),
Atlanta, GA
Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Salt Lake City, UT
Miami–Dade Transit, Miami, FL
Valley Metro Rail, Phoenix, AZ
Nashville Metro Transit Authority [Music City Star] (RTA),
Nashville, TN
Washington Metropolitan Area
(WMATA), Washington, DC
James Wilding
Independent Consultant
CHAIR: Adib K. Kanafani, Cahill Professor of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
VICE CHAIR: Michael R. Morris, Director of Transportation, North Central Texas Council of
Governments, Arlington
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Transportation Research Board
Jeff Hamiel
Minneapolis–St. Paul
Metropolitan Airports Commission
James Crites
Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport
Richard de Neufville
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kevin C. Dolliole
Unison Consulting
John K. Duval
Beverly Municipal Airport
Kitty Freidheim
Freidheim Consulting
Steve Grossman
Jacksonville Aviation Authority
Tom Jensen
National Safe Skies Alliance
Catherine M. Lang
Federal Aviation Administration
Gina Marie Lindsey
Los Angeles World Airports
Carolyn Motz
Hagerstown Regional Airport
Richard Tucker
Huntsville International Airport
Sabrina Johnson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Richard Marchi
Airports Council International—North America
Laura McKee
Air Transport Association of America
Henry Ogrodzinski
National Association of State Aviation Officials
Melissa Sabatine
American Association of Airport Executives
Robert E. Skinner, Jr.
Transportation Research Board
Christopher W. Jenks
Transportation Research Board
*Membership as of October 2009.
Abbreviations and acronyms used without definitions in TRB publications:
J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY
Allen D. Biehler, Secretary, Pennsylvania DOT, Harrisburg
Larry L. Brown, Sr., Executive Director, Mississippi DOT, Jackson
Deborah H. Butler, Executive Vice President, Planning, and CIO, Norfolk Southern Corporation,
Norfolk, VA
William A.V. Clark, Professor, Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles
David S. Ekern, Commissioner, Virginia DOT, Richmond
Nicholas J. Garber, Henry L. Kinnier Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of
Virginia, Charlottesville
Jeffrey W. Hamiel, Executive Director, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Minneapolis, MN
Edward A. (Ned) Helme, President, Center for Clean Air Policy, Washington, DC
Randell H. Iwasaki, Director, California DOT, Sacramento
Susan Martinovich, Director, Nevada DOT, Carson City
Debra L. Miller, Secretary, Kansas DOT, Topeka
Neil J. Pedersen, Administrator, Maryland State Highway Administration, Baltimore
Pete K. Rahn, Director, Missouri DOT, Jefferson City
Sandra Rosenbloom, Professor of Planning, University of Arizona, Tucson
Tracy L. Rosser, Vice President, Regional General Manager, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Mandeville, LA
Rosa Clausell Rountree, CEO–General Manager, Transroute International Canada Services, Inc.,
Pitt Meadows, BC
Steven T. Scalzo, Chief Operating Officer, Marine Resources Group, Seattle, WA
Henry G. (Gerry) Schwartz, Jr., Chairman (retired), Jacobs/Sverdrup Civil, Inc., St. Louis, MO
C. Michael Walton, Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering, University of Texas, Austin
Linda S. Watson, CEO, LYNX–Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Orlando
Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO, Maverick Transportation, Inc., Little Rock, AR
Thad Allen (Adm., U.S. Coast Guard), Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, DC
Peter H. Appel, Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S.DOT
J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S.DOT
Rebecca M. Brewster, President and COO, American Transportation Research Institute, Smyrna, GA
George Bugliarello, President Emeritus and University Professor, Polytechnic Institute of New York
University, Brooklyn; Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC
James E. Caponiti, Acting Deputy Administrator, Maritime Administration, U.S.DOT
Cynthia Douglass, Acting Deputy Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration, U.S.DOT
LeRoy Gishi, Chief, Division of Transportation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the
Interior, Washington, DC
Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads, Washington, DC
John C. Horsley, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation
Officials, Washington, DC
Rose A. McMurry, Acting Deputy Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S.DOT
Ronald Medford, Acting Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
Victor M. Mendez, Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, U.S.DOT
William W. Millar, President, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC
Peter M. Rogoff, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration, U.S.DOT
Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, U.S.DOT
Polly Trottenberg, Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, U.S.DOT
Robert L. Van Antwerp (Lt. Gen., U.S. Army), Chief of Engineers and Commanding General,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC
*Membership as of October 2009.
American Association of Airport Executives
American Association of State Highway Officials
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Airports Council International–North America
Airport Cooperative Research Program
Americans with Disabilities Act
American Public Transportation Association
American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
American Society for Testing and Materials
Air Transport Association
American Trucking Associations
Community Transportation Association of America
Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Synthesis Program
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Energy
Environmental Protection Agency
Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Highway Administration
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Federal Railroad Administration
Federal Transit Administration
Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991
Institute of Transportation Engineers
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Association of State Aviation Officials
National Cooperative Freight Research Program
National Cooperative Highway Research Program
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Transportation Safety Board
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
Society of Automotive Engineers
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act:
A Legacy for Users (2005)
Transit Cooperative Research Program
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998)
Transportation Research Board
Transportation Security Administration
United States Department of Transportation
Job No. XXXX
92+ pages; Perfect Bind with SPINE COPY = 14 pts
Pantone 648
500 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Video Surveillance Uses by Rail Transit Agencies
Video Surveillance Uses by
Rail Transit Agencies
the Federal
Transit Administration
A Synthesis of Transit Practice
Sponsored by
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF