Transit Industry Asks Congress to Quadruple Annual Security Funding

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the D.C. lobbying arm for much of the transit industry, today asked the House committee in charge of homeland security spending for $1.1 billion next year to beef up rail and bus security, a four-fold increase over the level that Congress approved for 2010.

APTA president William Millar told members of the House appropriations committee that a recent survey of member agencies' unmet security needs totaled $6.4 billion, or nearly twice as much money authorized in the 2007 law that codified the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

“Public transportation systems have taken many steps to improve security,"Millar said, "but almost 9 years since 9/11, we still need significant investment in order to protect our citizens who take 35 million trips each weekday on the nation’s public transit systems.”  

In the 2010 fiscal year, federal funding for transit security upgrades totaled $253 million, according to APTA. After last month's fatal terrorist attacks on the Moscow subway system, several U.S. cities escalated security along their rail lines, but even the largest transit agencies in the nation are short of underground cameras and other monitoring equipment.

Millar carefully contrasted the federal government's focus on aviation security with the requirements of securing local surface transport networks. "[T]he scope and scale of the disproportionate attention and dedication of resources to one mode of travel over all others is hard to ignore," he said, observing that the estimated 35 million daily trips on U.S. transit last year -- or 10.2 billion in total -- amount to about 18 times the numbers of daily airline boardings.