Is it really illegal to take pictures in the train station?

August 30, 2015

Law enforcement, others confused about policies

Ever since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, local bloggers and journalists have told stories of being stopped by police from taking photographs in train and bus stations, and near bridges and ports. But is there really a law against this, and if so, what’s behind it?

As it turns out, there are no government laws against the photography, and some of the individual transit officers have been incorrect about what the transit agencies’ regulations actually state. There are some regulations in place related to photography, but they predate 9/11.

When the Bayonne Community News recently started taking photographs of a Bayonne Bridge gantry crane from a public sidewalk, a Port Authority police officer asked the journalist to stop.

“You’re not supposed to be taking pictures,” the officer said. “It’s a Homeland Security issue.”

Actually, that isn’t the case.

According to a spokesman for the Port Authority, which oversees most of the ports, bridges, airports, and tunnels in the area, those shooting commercial photographs or video must apprise the authority in advance of their intentions. That means commercial photographs, taken by companies. Individuals do not have the same restriction – and the policies are not related to terrorism.

“Sometimes equipment is intrusive, and the Port Authority would like to know where those companies are, so that passenger movement is not put into any kind of danger or delay by that,” said spokesman Joe Pentangelo.

The guidelines don’t apply to the general public.

“For civilians, people who are just taking a photograph, that does not apply,” Pentangelo said. “Citizens are allowed to engage in photography at all Port Authority venues unless it’s a secure or off-limits location.”

NJ Transit’s policy is a little more restrictive, according to Senior Public Information Officer William Smith.

NJ Transit runs the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, as well as their trains and buses. (The PATH, on the other hand, is run by the Port Authority.)

“We don’t allow photography on the actual vehicles. That’s a safety issue,” Smith said.

What about shooting pictures at train or bus stations?

Read the complete story from reporter/staff writer by Joseph Passantino in The Hudson Reporter by clicking here.

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