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Subway and Bus Security

Updated Mar 11, 2020

As a general precaution, whether you're in the subway, the bus, or even in the street, appear confident. Always look as if you know where you're going, and you're better off not displaying money in public.

Officers in 12 Transportation Bureau Police districts are responsible for keeping subway stations safe. On the streets, a special police unit responds to bus crimes throughout New York City. Undercover officers travel on bus routes to stop problems as they occur. And, if you're alert and aware, you can make your subway and bus trips even more secure.

Off-hours waiting areas

Avoid standing at the end of subway platforms or on an empty platform. Instead, wait in the off-hours waiting area, particularly at night. Most stations have one, generally located on the mezzanine level, near a station booth. Speak to the station agent or other NYC Transit employees (who wear bright orange vests) if you have a problem. Use a Help Point or Customer assistance intercom (mounted on a platform column) to get help in a station where you're not visible to the station agent. When you speak into the Customer assistance intercom, the agent can speak with you. You can also use a public phone on the mezzanine or platform to dial 911 (the police) if you need help. This call is free. Each station booth posts the district and phone number of the NYPD unit that patrols the station. When it's not an emergency, use this number to contact the police. Electronic signs in many off-hours waiting areas indicate when a train is approaching the station. If you wait near the sign, you will have enough time to walk to the platform as the train arrives.

Precautions against pickpockets

Stay awake. A pickpocket's easiest victim is a sleeping passenger. If you feel drowsy, it's best to get up and stand, or take another seat. When you find yourself alone in an empty subway car, move to a car that has a conductor (usually in the center of the train), a train operator (front car), or other riders. Being alert and staying in a subway car with other people are always good precautions.

Although pickpockets often target people who are alone and asleep, they know how to operate in crowds as well. That's why you should be wary of being pushed or bumped. But even when there aren't many people around you on a bus or in the subway, never keep your wallet or money in a back pocket, and keep all bags, backpacks, and pocketbooks securely closed. Overlooking these things can make you an easy target. Keep alert if you see or hear a commotion. It could be a pickpocket's trick to divert your attention. And speaking of remaining alert, be extra cautious if you use headsets. They tend to reduce your awareness.

If your pocket is picked while you're on a bus, call out to the bus operator immediately. He or she can request police assistance.

How to avoid bag or chain snatching

Bag and chain snatchers are more obvious than pickpockets, but the result is the same. Following a few precautions can better protect our valuables.

MTA New York City Transit is serious about safety especially your safety. We hope you consider these messages when you ride with us and that they become standard practice for you throughout your daily trip.

How to avoid fraudulent activity at MetroCard Vending Machines

Protect yourself against possible credit/debit card fraud when using MetroCard Vending Machines (MVMs).  Here are some important tips from the Better Business Bureau to help safeguard your personal information when buying MetroCards at MVMs:

  • Beware of suspicious activity at or around the MVMs. Walk away from the machine if you notice someone watching you, or if you sense something suspicious.
  • When entering your Personal Identification Number (PIN) number, stand close to the machine and hold your hand or a piece of paper over the keypad or screen to make it more difficult for a person or camera to watch you.
  • Never keep a written copy of your PIN in your wallet or purse.
  • Before using an MVM, examine nearby objects that might conceal a camera; check the card slot for a plastic sheath before inserting your card.
  • Beware of strangers offering to help you with an MVM or ATM that appears disabled and notify someone responsible for the security of the machine.
  • Review your account statements on a regular basis, either online or on paper, and check for unauthorized withdrawals and purchases. If you find one, immediately contact your bank or credit card provider, as this will limit your financial liability for fraudulent charges.

Finally, if you feel your personal information has been compromised while using a New York City Transit MetroCard Vending Machine, contact MTA Police at 718-361-2201 immediately.