Methods for Dealing with Difficult Passengers

Public transportation agencies do their best to provide safe, reliable, and attractive service for all passengers. Efforts can be undone when problematic or difficult passengers that frighten or repel other passengers board buses or trains. Passengers who are offensive to others/difficult in some way, may board public transit and make other passengers feel uncomfortable, at least. At worst, it may discourage some passengers from using transit in the future, at all. Transit agencies need to take into account the concerns of all passengers, riding transit who wants a safe and comfortable trip. Every transit agency determines how it deals with difficult passengers. Some expect supervisors to handle such matters and others rely on transit police or local police. Some have developed relationships with local judges, while others have employees dedicated to teaching passengers of their rights and responsibilities. Some have clear codes of conduct approved by their policy boards, and others have passed local or state legislation to provide further authority for taking appropriate action. Some agencies encourage the operator to keep the bus moving where a supervisor or police officer will meet them, while others have to determine if the bus should be stopped from moving until an incident is resolved. Each case must be handled with a mixture of authority and respect, balancing the interests of the passenger(s) in question with the concerns of the remaining passengers. A synthesis of current practice will help transit agencies learn from each other about innovative, new and more effective practices in handling difficult passengers Information gathered will include but not be limited to the following: (1) Ways of minimizing these sorts of encounters through effective preventive programs, education, policies, rules; (2) How "No trespass warrants" really work and how might they be made more effective; (3) What operators can do more to defuse incidents that occur; (4) What training exists that can provide good guidance to operators and supervisors to prevent and minimize such incidents when difficult passengers board; (5) Legal issues; and (6) Union perspective. This synthesis will explore these issues and document successful practice. A literature review, survey of selected transit agencies and/or other stakeholders, and detailed case examples/profiles will be accomplished to report on the state-of-practice, including lessons learned, challenges, and gaps in information. American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation Safety Institute (TSI), and National Transit Institute (NTI) resources will be reviewed, as available. A draft further research needs statement might also be prepared.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-07, Topic

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Vlasak, Donna

  • Start Date: 20150609
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 39779

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01566082
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-07, Topic
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 10 2015 1:01AM