Transit police

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United States - New Jersey Transit Police K-9 officer and lieutenant at Hoboken Terminal

Transit police (also known as transport police, railway police, railroad police and several other terms) are specialized police agencies employed either by a common carrier (a transit district, railway, railroad, bus line, or any other mass transit provider) or a municipality, county, district, or state. Transit law enforcement services may also be provided by a specialized unit within a larger local law enforcement agency. Their mandate is to prevent and investigate crimes committed against the carrier or by or against passengers or other customers of the carrier, or those committed on the carrier's property.


Autonomous agencies[edit]

Great Britain's British Transport Police vehicles. BTP have full police powers and are a 'stand-alone' special police force.

A transit police force may consist of officers employed directly by a transit system or by a government agency dedicated to providing specialized law enforcement services. There are numerous instances of both within United States, given the decentralized nature of US law enforcement; Examples of larger, stand-alone agencies within the US include the MBTA Police, BART Police, and the New Jersey Transit Police Department. In the United Kingdom, transit law enforcement is provided by a single, nation-wide agency, the British Transport Police, although other law enforcement agencies may assist with this task. Within India, many transit policing services are conducted by the Government Railway Police.

Specialized units of local law enforcement agencies[edit]

A patrol vehicle of the Metro Transit Police, a division of the King County Sheriff's Office,[1] Washington state, USA.

Other forces may exist as a specialized unit of a local law enforcement agency, such as the United States' Transit Police Services Bureau of the Orange County, California Sheriff's Department (which serves the Orange County Transportation Authority) or the Transit Enforcement Unit of the Phoenix Police Department (assigned to the Phoenix Public Transit Department).[2] Some formerly independent transit police agencies have also been absorbed into (or had their duties assumed by) a larger, local law enforcement agency; Examples include the LACMTA Police's duties being assumed by the LAPD Transit Services Division[3] and the New York City Transit Police being integrated into the NYPD Transit Bureau.

Railroad police[edit]

Patch of the United States District of Columbia Metro Transit Police Department. Sworn personnel of this agency hold police powers in two separate US states, as well as the District of Columbia.

Where the term "transit police" is used for a law enforcement agency or unit working for a railroad/railway, it usually refers to a railroad providing urban mass transit (such as a city-elevated system or subway) as opposed to long-distance rail carriage.

Law enforcement agencies of both a cargo railroads and long-haul rail carriers are usually referred to as "railroad police" or "railway police". There is often considerable overlap in transit police and railroad police agencies’ duties. Railroad police agencies, however, have a long history, and were established separate from and prior to most modern transit police agencies. Transit police and railroad police powers may also be legally defined separately; For example, in the United States, many states have separate laws concerning both types of agencies.

However, in modern times, with increasing overlap in duties and the proliferation of extensive mass transit systems, some jurisdictions have opted for a ‘hybrid’ model of railroad and transit policing. For instance, in the United Kingdom, most of the rail systems, including the London Underground, are policed by the British Transport Police (BTP). The BTP is a full-service, national law enforcement agency, which essentially combined the duties of dozens of now-defunct transit and railway police agencies into a single entity (the BTP has no authority in Northern Ireland, except in emergencies).


Some transit police forces have full policing powers, such as the US' BART Police, SEPTA Transit Police, Metro Transit Police Department, Utah Transit Authority Police Department or the MBTA Police. The UK's British Transport Police, also has full police powers within Great Britain. In some areas, transit police agencies have limited or specific powers, and may be classed as special police or special constables, or peace officers with limited powers, such as Canada's Edmonton Transit Peace Officers.[4] Regardless, transit police services nearly always hold more authority than un-sworn, security guard-only services.


Do Not Trespass on the Railway sign from the United Kingdom

Some of the crimes transit police and railroad police investigate include trespassing on the right-of-way of a railroad, assaults against passengers, tagging of graffiti on railroad rolling stock and buses or bus stops, pickpocketing, ticket fraud, robbery and theft of personal belongings, baggage or freight, and drug dealing at transit stations. They may also engage in random ticket checking hoping to catch and fine ticketless travelers. These controls are usually more frequent in transit systems using an honor-based fare collecting approach.

Jurisdiction and authority[edit]

In federal states like the United States, Canada, or Australia, federal and state statutes determine the jurisdiction and authority of all police departments, including transit police.

Most transit police services have the same police authority as any other national, state and local police agencies, such as the MARTA (Atlanta)Transit Police, British Transport Police, New Jersey Transit Police Department, BART Police, Maryland Transit Administration Police, DART Police, SEPTA Transit Police, Utah Transit Authority Police Department, and the Metro Vancouver Transit Police (South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service) have rather extensive jurisdictions, including traffic enforcement, with arrest powers on and off property.

Transit and railroad police tend to have better results in finding perpetrators of crimes they investigate than public police forces, possibly due to specialization and smaller case loads.[citation needed]

List of specialised transit/transport police agencies and departments[edit]


New South Wales


South Australia

  • Transit Services Branch, South Australia Police (all public transport in Adelaide).[11] Private security also maintain a presence, especially during peak hours or events.


  • Transit Safety Division, Victoria Police members and Protective Services Officers (predominantly operate in Melbourne)[12]
  • Authorised Officers employed by Public Transport operator companies and by Public Transport Victoria (PTV).

Western Australia


Police forces[edit]

Special constables[edit]

Other large Canadian transit networks use security officers appointed as special constables or peace officers. As special constables, they typically have full police powers when working on transit property to enforce the Criminal Code of Canada, as well as respective Bylaws. Whilst they carry some police equipment, such as a protective vest, baton, handcuffs and pepper spray, they do not carry a firearm. These officers assist local jurisdiction's police officers in investigations of illegal activity on the transit system.

People's Republic of China[edit]

Cities in China which have rapid transit systems all have their transit police force associated to the local public security bureau. There are no non-governmental police forces, or police institutes under transit authority. National Rail used to have a police force under the Ministry of Railways, but such authority has since been transferred to local police agencies.[when?]

However, the structure of institutions can be vary from city to city. For example, cities like Tianjin and Chengdu might have a joint public transportation force of division level, operates on all the taxis, bus routes, coaches, rapid transit and ferry lines as well as transportation hubs inside city limit; while Chongqing and Xi'an[13] have tighter transit cop brigades focused exclusively on protecting the mass transit lines. Again, all these agencies are supervised by the PSBs of higher level.

Hong Kong[edit]


  • Police Régionale des Transports (Police Nationale) - operates on Paris' suburban trains, and metro
  • Service National de Police Ferroviaire (Police Nationale-Direction Centrale de la Police aux Frontières) - operates on mainline trains
  • Service Interdépartemental de Sécurité dans les Transports en Commun (SISTC) - Police Nationale - Direction Centrale de la Sécurité Publique
  • Surveillance Générale (Suge) - operates on SNCF railways. This private service, run by the SNCF, has restricted police powers
  • Groupe de Protection et de Sécurisation des Réseaux (GPSR) - operates on RATP railways. This private service, run by the RATP, has restricted police powers
  • Police des Transports de l'Agglo Orléans Val de Loire - operates on bus, tram and train service in the Orléans Métropole



The Indian Railway Protection Force Service (IRPFS) is a security force, established by the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957 ; enacted by the Indian Parliament for "the better protection and security of railway property".

It has the power to search, arrest, investigate and prosecute, though the ultimate power rests in the hands of the Government Railway Police. The force is under the authority of the Indian Ministry of Railways.

The Government Railway Police (IAST: Sarakārī Rēlvē Pulīs), abbreviated as GRP, is the police force of the Indian Railways. It was established by the Railways Act, 1989, of the Parliament of India. Its duties correspond to those of the District Police in the areas under their jurisdiction, such as patrolling, but only on railway property. It is the parent agency of the Railway Protection Force, and aids and provides assistance to it, whose primary duties are to protect and secure all railway property.

The GRP's responsibility is to observe law and order on all railway property. Officers are recruited from the Indian Police Service. The force is under joint-control of the Indian Ministry of Railways and the police departments of the various state police departments of India

  • State Highway Police



  • Port Police (Ostas Policija)


Railway police[edit]

Transit enforcement[edit]

  • In The Netherlands, all public transport companies providing public service have their own enforcement officers, these officers often have the BOA status (special investigation officer) and limited police powers (use of force, arrest and use of handcuffs) the main task of these officers is fare enforcement and securing the safety of the public and employees within the transport vehicles.
  • The city of Amsterdam, is the only municipality in the Netherlands which operates its own transit enforcement department. The "Veiligheidsteam openbaar vervoer" (Safety team public transport) cooperates with the Amsterdam police in maintaining public order within the public transport, stations an hubs within the city limits, prevent or stop crimes, public assistance, issuing transit information and spotting suspicious behavior. Their uniforms are similar to that of police officers (police style hat, yellow high-visibility jacket and trousers with side striping; the only difference with the uniform of a police officer is that the trouser and hat color are dark grey whereas the police uses navy blue. These enforcement officers are employed by the city, whereas the police officers are employed by the national police. Enforcement officers are equipped with handcuffs and a short police baton and have limited police powers like the use of force, making arrests, detaining people and issuing fines. The city of Amsterdam is currently looking into the possibility to equip the officers with a can of pepperspray; this will probably be in mid 2014.[needs update]

Russian Federation[edit]

Main Directorate of the Transport of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. (Главное Управление на Транспорте Министерства Внутренних Дел.)




United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Public Transit Police - Transit Enforcement Unit".
  3. ^ "Transit Services Division - Los Angeles Police Department".
  4. ^ "Transit Peace Officer Full-time | City of Edmonton".
  5. ^ Wales, corporateName=NSW Police Force; jurisdiction=New South. "Transport Safety - NSW Police Force".
  6. ^ sector=Government, corporateName=Sydney Trains; contact=Communications Directorate (2019-02-22). "Keeping you safe and secure - Sydney Trains". Sydney Trains.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Security initiatives".
  9. ^ "Revenue protection - TransLink".
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2011-08-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-08-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "西安市公安局地铁分局挂牌成立". 陕西省人民政府. 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  14. ^ "RPF renamed as Indian Railway Protection Force Service". Deccan Herald. December 31, 2019.
  15. ^ "Shri Piyush Goyal launches new Establishment Manual for RPF Minister of Railways and Commerce and Industry announces a new state of the art commando training centre to be established in Jagadhri, Haryana". 19 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Tätt samarbete i Stockholms undre värld" (in Swedish). Swedish Police Union. 2007-06-18. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  17. ^ section 5, Belfast Harbour Act 1847.
  18. ^ "Port of Felixstowe :: Page Not Found". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Cite uses generic title (help)
  19. ^ section 3(d), Falmouth Docks Act 1959.
  20. ^ "Safer Transport Teams | the Met | The Met". Retrieved 2020-06-24.