Safety and Security FAQ

What steps has Metro taken to maintain customer safety?

We have done the following:

  • increased the presence of transit police officers and K-9 units throughout the system,
  • relocated all newspaper vending machines, trash receptacles, and recycling bins to station entrances/exits,
  • moved bicycle lockers away from station underpasses, and
  • formalized our procedures for handling hazardous materials.

These steps complement the many safety and security practices that we have followed for years. Examples of such practices include:

  • conducting daily inspections of our equipment and facilities,
  • ensuring that our employees are knowledgeable about safety procedures, and
  • testing and acquiring the latest safety technology.

These efforts have established Metro as a national leader in transit system safety.

What can I do now to better prepare for an emergency?

Learning alternate ways of getting where you need to go is an important part of emergency preparedness. There are often multiple ways to reach a destination via Metro. Use the Trip Planner, Metrorail schedules, Metrobus timetables, and system maps to help you plan your alternate routes. Should an emergency occur that affects Metro service, information about schedule changes and detours will be available on the home page of this website as well as by calling 202-637-7000 or TTY 202-638-3780. More tips are available in the emergency preparedness brochure.

Be sure to also visit our emergency preparedness page, which provides links to Metro's safety and security brochures and press releases as well as to external sites including the Office of Personnel Management's Emergency Guidance, American Red Cross Community Disaster Education materials, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and emergency preparedness sites for Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

How can I get help in an emergency?

  • On a Metrobus, contact the operator.
  • On a Metrorail train, use the emergency intercom at either end of the car to contact the train operator. Push and hold the red button to speak. Release the red button to hear responses. If a disturbance occurs on the car in which you are riding, go to another car to report it.
  • On a station platform, use the emergency intercoms on the designated pylons to contact the station manager or dial 911 on the pay phones for emergency assistance.

What should I do in an emergency?

In an emergency, it's always important to listen to and calmly follow the instructions provided by Metro employees. However, the information below is also useful when dealing with an emergency situation:

  • On a Metrobus, emergency exit procedures are listed on windows, ceiling escape hatches, and doors. Fire extinguishers are located inside the front door under the passenger-side seat or beneath/behind the driver's seat.
  • On a Metrorail train, use the emergency intercom at either end of the car to contact the train operator. Emergency instructions are posted inside each rail car next to the center doors. Fire extinguishers are located in the operator's cab, and they are also often available under the last row of seats at the end of the car.
  • In a Metro station, use the emergency intercoms to contact Metro personnel call 911 on any pay phone. Familiarize yourself with all exits at the stations you frequently use in case you ever have to take a different exit.

What should I do if I see a suspicious package?

The majority of unattended packages are harmless; however, if you find a suspicious package, contact Metro transit police immediately at 202-962-2121. Characteristics of suspicious packages may include:

  • unusual batteries or wires
  • tanks, bottles or bags indicating the presence of a chemical
  • a message attached to the article
  • suspicious clouds, mists, gases, vapors or odors
  • the appearance of something seeping from the article
  • the observation of someone abandoning the article and quickly leaving
  • finding the article in an out of the way place

Also report any suspicious activity to Metro Transit Police at 202-962-2121. To enable us to respond quickly, be prepared to provide detailed information about what activity is taking place, where it is taking place, and the individuals who are involved.

What should I do if I see an unknown substance?

Occasionally, substances that are not easily recognizable are observed in Metrobuses, Metrorail trains, and Metro stations (e.g., cleaning solutions, crushed food, road salt). Again, most substances that may seem suspicious at first glance are actually harmless. If you are concerned about the presence of a substance on a Metrobus, Metrorail train or in a Metro station, contact the nearest Metro employee and provide him/her with as much information as possible (appearance of substance, location of substance, and any other information known) so that we can thoroughly investigate your report. Anyone caught in the act of perpetrating a hoax or found to have committed a hoax will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Is it against the law to litter in a Metro station?

Yes, as well as on Metrobuses and Metrorail trains. Use the trash receptacles and recycling bins located near the station exits/entrances to discard your trash. It is also against the law to smoke, eat, drink, transport dangerous/flammable materials, spit, use audio/video devices without earphones or transport animals with the exception of service animals and animals transported in a box or basket so as not to endanger or offend other passengers.

What type of crime occurs most often at Metro?

The majority of Metro-related crime does not occur on trains, in stations or on buses; rather, it happens in our parking lots. On average, we park about 50,000 cars each day for long periods of time. This is an attractive target for thieves who try to steal vehicles or valuable property they can observe through the windows. To help prevent the theft of your vehicle or personal property, see our tips for preventing auto theft.