July 13, 2011

Lights, Camera, Metro! Guide to Taking Video/Photos On Metro Transit

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Bands Union Tree Review and Bo & the Locomotive film at University-Big Bend MetroLink Station. The bands contacted Metro for permission to film and had security clearance.

You are riding home on the train. The sun is setting, pink light washing over the train yards in midtown, and you think to yourself, “This would make a great photo.” Pull out your camera, snap, and you’ve captured a great image of St. Louis, taken from MetroLink. Or maybe you and your family are taking your first bus ride around Forest Park. The kids grin excitedly, huddle together and smile for the camera. Click! You’ve captured a great family moment on transit.

Public transit is a social affair, and many people want to share what they experience when they ride. Right now, Citizens for Modern Transit is sponsoring a photo contest for the Best Transit Pic of the Month, with a winning prize of a free Metro pass for August. In order to make sure that passengers stay safe and photographers are courteous to others, Metro has a photo/video policy for the system. If you’re looking to be inspired and take photos or video on Metro, here is what you need to know before you go:

  • Photographers and videographers who plan to take photos or video for commercial use, or who need to set up tripods, lighting or other equipment, need prior approval. Call the Communications Department at 314-982-1440 for approval.
  • Please be advised that security personnel may approach photographers and videographers to inquire about their purpose, so please answer any questions they may have.
  • Activities may be limited for security, safety or customer convenience. Stay off the gray area on MetroLink platforms or anywhere near tracks or path of buses.
  • Photography and filming of critical infrastructure including MetroLink tracks, bridges, and tunnels is not permitted.

If you have any other questions or run into problems, please call the number above or email afletcher AT metrostlouis.org or tweet to @STLMetro. Have fun, and good luck!

7 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Metro! Guide to Taking Video/Photos On Metro Transit”

  1. Patrick Richmond says:

    Now to make it easy for the public to understand is where to sit on the train. If you sit on the passenger side and facing the direction of travel, just aim your camera out the window. Aim your camera out the windshield, and y9u are going to pick up some track on your camera. Now the bus may be more of a challenging thing to film because they run on roads instead of rails. Now they don’t say anything about video taping on the bus, but the only critical point on a bus is the highway. That is because sometimes when the bus route is traveling on an interstate highway, the bus driver might getthe bus into an inner lane to go around a car or a truck. Call-a-Ride is the least vunerable to videotape because they use much smaller equipment. But then if you want to film on the bus or a Call-a-Ride van, call the public relations number that Courtney posted.

    1. Courtney says:

      You can take photos on the bus, Patrick, as long as the photos don’t bother other passengers or the operator.

  2. RTBones says:

    Nothing earth-shattering about these photography provisos. This is similar to what gets done at and around airports. Also, the more “professional looking” your camera, the more questions you tend to get (says the airplane junkie with a Canon 30D). In general, for the post 9/11 world we live in, just use a little common sense and answer any questions security may have for you. If security asks to see your pictures, show them.

    1. Courtney says:

      Great advice, RT!

  3. Patrick Richmond says:

    Thanks Courtney! Sometimes we also have to keep an eye out on the news about what level the Homeland Security Level is set at. Like I say, it’s best to aim the camera out the window. On Call-a-Ride, it used to be the tamest service offered by Metro because the equipment was the lightest eventhough the cab and engine were built by Ford, and Ford has the Powerstroke diesel. But now the Fords are being phased out and replaced with Chevrolet converted trucks. And they are heavier, and they are equipped with a 6.6 liter V-8 Duromax diesel.

  4. Chris says:

    I am a big fan of transit and I take pictures of buses and trains all the time whenever I travel around the world to other cities. I reside in St. Louis and enjoy riding Metro whenever I can and I will take pictures of buses. However, all these years of transit fanning I’ve noticed with Metro the security will still hassle you even when I have a written consent from the Communications Dept. It gets annoying sometimes, but I guess thats the world we live in now.

    I’ve captured many great moments of buses and my friends riding transit. I even compiled a video of my bus fanning around the St. Louis area. That Youtube link will link you to my video compilation of Metro and MCT.


    I have a new video project in the works and I will post an updated video compilation of MCT’s new Gillig BRTs and Metro’s new 3800 series Gilligs.

    1. Courtney says:

      Awesome. Thanks Chris! We’ll try to work with security. It is related to Homeland Security that they are very cautious.

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