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.

  • Mad Park

    I’d just love to see an itemised list of what some of those US$6B in “security” needs are – more private security goons ambling around telling law abiding citizens and visitors they cannot take photos? How would a camera have stopped the Atocha or Moskva bombings?
    If used for good solid police detective work, maybe, but this Security Theatre thing has gotten out of hand in the US!

  • Adam

    Mad – I’ve spoken with some people working on these projects for a big city, and they would like to install cameras in their transit stations with the capability to record and monitor in real time. Their existing cameras are not monitored, and cannot be pulled to a central location without actual access to an onsite recording area. It would be nice to think that a telecom system is already set up to centralize and monitor this information, but that would be a project costing in the 10s of millions for cameras in the NYC subways alone… Transit security is woefully behind airport, building, and public space security and needs a lot of $$ to catch up…

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