This case study of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks examines how the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit, Port Authority, and other transit systems responded to the events of 9-11, and how the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) worked to coordinate response and recovery operations; it also seeks to identify those lessons that can be captured before participants rotate or retire, memories dim, and what was learned is lost. The scope is limited to the evaluation of transit response, not other surface transportation elements such as bridges and tunnels, which seemed to function quite well and could be the subject of an additional MTI study. This is a continuation of work begun by MTI in 1996, a program that has included two national symposia, two California statewide symposia, two volumes of case studies, a chronology of attacks on surface transportation from 1920 through 2000, and an Executive Overview that includes a best practices checklist. Due to the magnitude of damage to and involvement by the New York City transit agencies, the report focuses primarily on that city’s experience. The systems that were affected directly or indirectly and the responding emergency agencies are addressed with regard to prior preparations, the immediate events on September 11, and subsequent alarms. The study includes crisis management, security, and restoration of service. This report is not an audit of performance, but a distillation of lessons learned for use in planning response to future terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Lessons learned fell into three broad categories: command and control, planning, and planning, training, and exercises (PTE).

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transportation Security/Counterterrorism

MTI Project



Safety and security, Terrorism, Emergency transportation, Crisis management, Transportation system