Transportation Systems Sector: Busing

The Busing sub-sector is comprised of  passenger buses, commercial minivans, tour or motor coach buses, both open-air and enclosed bus stations, and bus stops. This sub-sector does not include school buses. 

According to the American Public Transportation Association, there are 1,342 bus systems across the United States.

NJ Transit is the most prominent public busing transportation system in the State, providing routes to locations throughout New Jersey and connections to New York City and Philadelphia. There are 256 routes, 30 bus stations, and 18,778 bus stops. The fleet consists of 3,736 buses, including those leased to private operators. Daily ridership on an average weekday is 546,500.

Threat

Crime
Threats to the Busing sub-sector are primarily criminal in nature. Theft is the most prominent crime on buses in New Jersey, but a continued concern is assaults on passengers and bus drivers. Assaults on bus drivers while the vehicle is in operation can cause crashes and injuries to persons in and around the bus. In New Jersey, an assault on a bus operator is automatically upgraded to an aggravated assault charge under state law.

Terrorism: Low
There have been no terrorist attacks against buses in the United States during the past decade. Worldwide, the Global Terrorism Database reports 924 attacks over the same time period. This sub-sector is attractive for terrorists due to ease of access, regularly scheduled routes, and the potential for mass casualties—providing attackers with predictability in planning and executing attacks.

Cyber: Low
Although the threat to the Busing sub-sector is low compared to other transportation systems, there are vulnerabilities in commuter buses that malicious actors could exploit to manipulate a vehicle’s steering, transmission, or braking. For example, hackers can use openly available software tools to scan for Telematics Gateway Units (TGUs)—radio-enabled devices that track location, gas mileage, and other data—which can then be used to access the vehicle’s internal network and remotely control various components. Busing and other transportation operators are also at risk of ransomware and other cyber tactics used to demand a ransom payment, such the theft of customer payment information from ticketing systems or distributed denial-of-service attacks.

Preparedness

The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) First Observer Program is a security awareness training initiative that focuses on enhancing security across transportation modes, including buses. This training assists in effectively observing, assessing and reporting suspicious individuals, vehicles, packages, and objects. 

The TSA Surface Division, along with public and private sector security experts, developed the Motorcoach Security Best Practices as a framework for the industry to implement effective security practices.

NJ TRANSIT Police Department Text Against Terror and TIPS line provides the commuting public with a designated text and phone number to report suspicious activity or unattended packages. All information is confidential, and all tips provided are investigated.

The Intercity Bus Security Grant Program is a funding opportunity for owners and operators of intercity bus systems. The program’s goal is to better protect surface infrastructure and the traveling public, as well as increase transit infrastructure resiliency.

Intelligence Gaps

  • What steps are terrorist groups in the Unites States taking to target the Busing sub-sector?
  • Do private sector bus operators have sufficient training to identify and report suspicious activity?
  • What steps are bus operators taking to identify and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities?

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at preparedness@njohsp.gov.