Reports of an explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City Monday morning serve as a reminder that our public transit system and transit hubs remain potential targets of criminal activity.

While there is no indication of any new threat to commuters in the Washington, D.C. area, this is a good time to review some tips to stay safe and assist law enforcement in keeping our transit systems secure.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security and many other transit agencies have used variations of the “See Something, Say Something” campaign to encourage riders to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity.

Metro encourages riders to text reports to 696873 (MYMTPD). They can also call 911 or 202-962-2121 in the event of an emergency.

Riders of MARC Train and other services from the Maryland Transit Authority are also encouraged to call 911 in an emergency, or report suspicious activity by calling 410-454-7720 or 410-454-7721.

Amtrak encourages riders to call 911, but they can also text information on suspicious activity to APD11, or call the National Communications Center at 1-800-331-0008.

Here are some other tips from local transit and government agencies:

  • Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
  • If you see a suspicious package, don’t attempt to move it.
  • If you notice a suspicious person, do not question or contact the person.
  • In an emergency, remain calm and follow the instructions from the operator or conductor.
  • Listen to announcements and know locations of the emergency releases and exits.Carry backup phone batteries and charging cords with you at all times, as well as a car charging adapter if you are driving.
  • Be aware of alternative modes and paths of travel, and carry important contact numbers for child care providers, and others who may be impacted if you find yourself delayed or stuck.
  • Use text messaging instead of calling, if possible. Text messaging is more likely to work if communications networks are disrupted. The Federal Communications Commission suggests that if you do try to call someone, keep calls as brief as possible. The FCC also suggests waiting at least 10 seconds before re-dialing, as it takes some time for data to clear from a network.
  • Use social media to let people know you are safe. A single Facebook message can reach your entire network quickly. In serious emergencies affecting many people, Facebook has been known to activate a “Safety Check” feature allowing people to “check in” to let everyone know they are safe.

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