Transit Leader Testifies on Importance of Security

WASHINGTON — In testimony before the full Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, on the safety and security of passenger rail and public transportation systems, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) highlighted an identified $6 billion in critical security needs to keep America’s public transportation systems safe.

“In the United States, more than 9 1⁄2 billion trips are taken on public transportation systems every year. 32 million times every weekday Americans board public transportation vehicles throughout the country-in urban, suburban, and rural communities,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “To put it in perspective, 16 times more Americans travel by transit every day than use the domestic airlines.”

APTA’s survey on public transportation security identified needs of at least $5.2 billion in additional capital funding to maintain, modernize, and expand transit system security functions to meet increased security demands. Over $800 million in increased operating costs for security personnel, training, technical support, and research and development have been identified, bringing transit security funding needs to total more than $6 billion.

Priority examples of transit security capital investment needs include:

    * Radio communication systems.
    * Security camera on-board transit vehicles and in transit stations.
    * Controlling access to transit facilities and secure areas.
    * Automated vehicle locator systems.
    * Security fencing around facilities.

Priority examples of transit operations security needs include:

    * Current and additional transit agency and local law enforcement personnel.
    * Over-time costs and extra security personnel during heightened alert levels.
    * Training for security personnel.
    * Security planning activities.
    * Security training for other transit personnel.

Safety and security are the top priorities of the public transportation industry. Since September 11, 2001, public transportation agencies have invested an estimated $1.7 billion from their own budgets on security and emergency preparedness programs and technology, developed in concert with the Federal Transit Administration. Some of these initiatives include:

    * Increased surveillance via closed circuit TV.
    * Increased training for employees.
    * Hired more police, K-9 units added.
    * Chemical detection systems being tested.
    * Infrastructure design to eliminate hiding places.
    * Drills are routinely held with other first responders.
    * Encouraging riders to be vigilant for suspicious activities or items.

“Transit systems around the country are working hard to make our service more secure for the millions and millions of Americans who use it everyday,” Millar said. “In addition, transit employees are on the front line in our nation’s effort against terrorism. They are part of the first responder teams who will help the public in the event of a terrorist attack. They deserve our full support.”

To increase security, APTA is requesting that the President’s Fiscal Year 2005 budget request for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security be amended to include a specific line item for transit systems and that these funds, at a significantly higher level, be provided directly to transit systems so that additional security measures can be implemented in a timely manner.