Monday, July 11, 2005

U. S. Transit Security begins with US!

You and I. Ultimately, we are going to be the most effective deterent when it comes to keeping subways, busses, and light rail vehicles safe from terrorists. We can act in the same spirit as those on-board heroes who diverted the flight intended for a government target in Washington DC to a field in Pennsylvania. We do not necessarily have to give the ultimate sacrifice, but honestly, it is the patrons who ride everyday who know when something is not right. Common everyday transit patrons are the key to keeping our transit systems safe. Patrons, not politicians.

By all means, politicians will try to make many believe that they are the ones to whom we owe our security. In fact, the political snowstorm has already started. Senators Schumer and Clinton have already primed the publicity pump by introducing legislation. Senator Reed has already countered his committee's vote.

Plus, I am going to be especially interested in what Senators Gregg, Cochran, Stevens, Specter, Domenici, Shelby, Craig, Bennett, Allard, Byrd, Inouye, Leahy, Milkulski, Kohi, Murray, Reid, and Feinstein have to say in the coming weeks. Why these Senators? Because they are all members of the Senate Subcommittee for Homeland Security Appropriations who recently cut funding for transit security by one third, from $150M to $100M, according to APTA.

Yes, there has been some response by various Agencies to step up security. Generally, these responses have met with comments that vary from scepticism, to sarcasm, to the acceptance that more needs to be done. The most accurate summation may have appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

Money is needed, but it might be wasted. The question is, what will the money buy us in the way of Transit Security? How will the plethora of government agencies and bureaucrats allocate these proposed funds? How about if these people who control the pursestrings empower the everyday transit patron.

Let's say you are one of those patrons on a bus, or a commuter train, or a subway car, and you see something suspicious. And, horror of horrors, there is no bomb sniffing dog or uniformed security guard in sight! What then? This is a situation that can logically happen, but yet, more than likely no one would have a clue as to what could be done.

Now, reporting something out of the ordinary to a bus driver is met with a shoulder shrug. And if you are on a train, more than likely no one would be in sight who might be able to help.

Maybe enabling the everyday patron could be as easy as having a system where the driver can report a concern to the Transit Operations Center, and understand that it is important that such notification is performed. Or maybe, there is a posted number where a cell phone user can notify someone. Or maybe, notification of the proper authorities can tie in with the local 1-800 number. Yes, there is a chance for abuse. Yes, there could be crank calls. But, once again, the best force for Transit Security is all of us, you and I. Somehow, I hope that Force can be tapped and mobilized. It will help lots more than all of the political rhetoric that is likely to be heard in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: A review of web comments this morning revealed that the Hate-Bush-for-everything-including-Hurricane-Dennis bloggers are out in force, adding their vile to the politicians snowstorm. I will not provide any links to them here; that would only raise their visibility at Findory, Technorati, Feedster and the like. No surprise, none of them had much in the way of positive ideas, except to spend money.


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