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Visual surveillance is an active research topic in image processing. Transit systems are actively seeking new or improved ways to use technology to deter and respond to accidents, crime, suspicious activities, terrorism, and vandalism. Human behavior-recognition algorithms can be used proactively for prevention of incidents or reactively for investigation after the fact. This paper describes the current state-of-the-art image-processing methods for automatic-behavior-recognition techniques, with focus on the surveillance of human activities in the context of transit applications. The main goal of this survey is to provide researchers in the field with a summary of progress achieved to date and to help identify areas where further research is needed. This paper provides a thorough description of the research on relevant human behavior-recognition methods for transit surveillance. Recognition methods include single person (e.g., loitering), multiple-person interactions (e.g., fighting and personal attacks), person-vehicle interactions (e.g., vehicle vandalism), and person-facility/location interactions (e.g., object left behind and trespassing). A list of relevant behavior-recognition papers is presented, including behaviors, data sets, implementation details, and results. In addition, algorithm's weaknesses, potential research directions, and contrast with commercial capabilities as advertised by manufacturers are discussed. This paper also provides a summary of literature surveys and developments of the core technologies (i.e., low-level processing techniques) used in visual surveillance systems, including motion detection, classification of moving objects, and tracking.