Transit police

Transit police are a specialized police agency or unit employed by a common carrier, which could be a transit district, railroad, bus line, other transport carrier, or the state. 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.

A transit police force may consist of officers employed directly by a transit system, such as the Amtrak Police, or it may exist as a specialized unit of a local police force, such as the Transit Police Services Bureau of the Orange County, California Sheriff's Department, which serves the Orange County Transportation Authority or South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service[1] which serves the transit system of southern British Columbia, Canada.

Where the term "transit police" is used for the police 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. Police who work either for a private non-passenger railroad or long-haul rail carrier are usually referred to as "railroad police" or "railway police". In Britain, most of the rail system, including the London Underground, is policed by a national transport police agency, the British Transport Police. Some transit police forces have full policing powers, such as BART Police, SEPTA Transit Police, Metro Transit Police Department, Utah Transit Authority Police Department or MBTA Transit Police, while in other areas, they have limited powers and are classed as special police or special constables with limited powers.

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

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 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 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.

List of specialised transit/transport police agencies and departments


New South Wales


South Australia


Western Australia


The South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service (commonly known as the Metro Vancouver Transit Police) is the only full transit police force in Canada, a necessity since Metro Vancouver's TransLink public transit system spans 22 separate municipalities and 16 police jurisdictions.

Most other large Canadian cities use security officers appointed as special constables or peace officers. These officers assist local jurisdiction's police officers in investigations of illegal activity on the transit system. Some transit security forces using special constables include:

China, People's Republic of

Cities in China which have rapid transit systems all have their transit police force associated to the local public security bureau. There isn't any non-governmental police force nor any police institutes under the transit authority. National Rail used to have a police force under the Ministry of Railways, but such authority is transferred to local police now.

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[10] 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





Railway police

Transit enforcement

Russian Federation

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




United Kingdom

United States

See also


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