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Mass Transit and Homeland Security: Policy Issues (From Homeland Security Law and Policy, P 225-233, 2005, William C. Nicholson, ed. -- See NCJ-212315)

NCJ Number
Eva Lerner-Lam
Date Published
9 pages
This overview of homeland security issues related to mass transit addresses why mass transit security is such a challenge, the types of threats to public transit security, public transit security policy, and key strategies and initiatives.
Public transit is a security challenge because its access and concentration of people makes it an attractive terrorist target; its multijurisdictional environments require extensive coordination, cooperation, and funding; and multimodal interactions can increase its vulnerability to attack and serious damage. The types of threats transit security must guard against include armed assault, hostage-taking, chemical release onboard, explosives onboard, chemicals outside transit vehicles, and explosives/sabotage outside vehicles. Transit security policy must involve a systems approach, safety and security as the dominant concern in transit management, collaboration and coordination, the use of security technologies, and the preparation of transit security personnel for being first responders in cases of attack. The key to an effective security system is to prepare, prevent, respond, and recover. Some initiatives in transit security since the September 11th terrorist attacks are the development of a 20-point security program to assess, prepare, drill, respond, and recover; threat and vulnerability assessment of 37 of the largest and highest risk transit agencies; the deployment of technical teams to assist agencies in implementing major components of a systematic security program; tabletop and full-scale drills with regional emergency responders; and training and outreach for transit employees and management personnel. A discussion of challenges and future policy direction concludes the chapter. 26 notes and discussion questions