Transit Video Surveillance Systems: How Do They Work?

Comprehensive and effective security systems are a necessity for public transport systems everywhere.

Crime and security are always concerns for both riders and transportation officials, and there are a host of situations where comprehensive security is warranted, whether IP cameras or access control at stations.

In this guide, we’ll talk about how these surveillance systems work, why they’re important, and how they help make riding buses and trains much safer for everyone.

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How Do Transit Bus Camera Surveillance Systems Work? 

Transit video surveillance systems utilize cameras installed in various locations within transit vehicles, such as buses, trains, or trams, to monitor activities and ensure the welfare and security of passengers and employees. 

The device can provide on-time video footage of the vehicle’s interior and exterior. The footage is then transmitted to a central monitoring station or stored locally on a recording device. 

Technology advancement features include motion detection, facial recognition, and live streaming capabilities. Transit authorities and law enforcement agencies in the industry can use this footage for incident investigation, evidence collection, solving crimes, and monitoring passenger behavior. 

Public transportation surveillance camera system

4 Improvements in Video Surveillance For Public Transportation Systems

1. High Definition Video Footage & Surveillance

While CCTV systems on public transportation—light rail, in particular—have never been the highest quality, cities, and transit authorities in the industry have been upgrading their systems in recent years to much newer, more powerful systems.

IP Camera systems are already very popular with vehicle systems, and many authorities in the industry have recently made the leap to IP camera systems shooting in 4k – ensuring higher-quality video that allows for clearer replay and monitoring. It helps reduce risk, acts as an effective deterrent, and backs up the authority during liability claims stemming from onboard accidents, disobedience of regulations, commuter problems, and challenges.

4K camera has become popular not only for their higher resolution and quality but also for their low-light capabilities and better coverage. Pairing a 4K camera with wide camera lenses or using 360-degree video cameras means you have wider coverage even with fewer surveillance cameras.

The system is a cost-effective solution that avoids blind spots in the area of coverage, the bandwidth necessary, and associated costs.

Some buses even display their video feeds on monitors at the front of the bus, allowing drivers and riders to be aware of what is happening around them at all times.

2. Flexibility on Video Storage & Downloading

Transportation officials are looking to decrease the bandwidth needed to store and transmit surveillance video and are even opting for mobile and cloud options as a solution for storage challenges.

In Boston, for example, the MBTA will provide cameras with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE, leaving vehicle operations control via the cloud and automatically offloading video wirelessly once the bus or train has returned to the station platform.

They also use video trickling to access and minimize the bandwidth necessary for downloading. Each transit bus has six different interior and exterior cameras to ensure cameras have no blind spots.

These new CCTV camera systems will help solve and increase security efforts, provide a safer experience for everybody, reduce network bandwidth, and aim to save money.

Video Storage and Downloading

3. Provide Smart Communication For Riders

To further enhance security and provide a better riding experience for their riders, for instance, Denver’s Regional Transportation District and Dallas Area Rapid Transit – have introduced apps that allow riders to report issues for protection, send photos and videos of concerns, and even pinpoint location via GPS for faster response from police.

4. Illuminating Dark Spots for Passenger Safety

A big hurdle to overcome is the low light usually found in stations and trains. Bright lighting inside the a vehicle or station platform will give protection to riders, increase their confidence in taking transportation, and allow surveillance devices the light needed to get a bright and clear image.

Combined with high-quality 4k devices bright lighting greatly enhances image quality and ensures that video can aid in investigating incidents and operation challenges.

For further protection, authorities in the industry have invested largely in installing lighting in their stations, buses, and trains as part of the solution over the past few years.

The Chicago Transportation Authority, for example, is investing over $15 million in lighting upgrades over the next two years to protect individuals.


How long is footage retained in transit video surveillance?

Typically, footage is retained for 30 to 90 days before being overwritten or archived. 

However, the retention period for footage captured by surveillance varies depending on local regulations and agency policies. 

What features are typically included in transit video surveillance?

Transit video surveillance may include features such as HD cameras with wide coverage, night vision capabilities, motion detection, facial recognition, remote access designed for live monitoring (so inspectors can check the data with leaving the office), and storage for recorded footage.

Is transit video surveillance legal?

Yes, they are generally legal if they comply with relevant privacy laws and regulations. In the end, authorities need to provide details to the riders about the presence of surveillance devices and how their data will be used.

Key Takeaways

Transit video surveillance greatly helps keep public transportation safe and secure. With constant technological advancements, it continues to evolve, offer improvement, and greater reliability.

In the end, authorities must offer and invest in modern video solutions to stay ahead of emerging threats, reduce problems, and ensure the security of commuters.

Ready to enhance the security of your transit and protect commuters? Contact us today to learn more about implementing state-of-the-art video surveillance solutions tailored to your needs.

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