Carper Votes for $5.2 Billion Measure to Improve Transit Security

Legislation to Be Married to Carper Rail Security Legislation

WASHINGTON (May 6, 2004) – Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., joined the rest of his Banking Committee colleagues today in unanimously approving legislation that would authorize $5.2 billion for our nation’s transit security needs. That bill will likely be brought to the Senate floor and married to a rail security measure, also sponsored by Carper, which passed out of the Commerce Committee in April. The rail legislation [S. 2273], entitled the Rail Security Act of 2004, would authorize about $1.2 billion to help protect passenger and freight railroads from potential terrorist attacks. Carper said broad legislation to further protect our nation’s transit and rail systems is especially needed in the wake of the March 11 attacks on four rush hour trains in Madrid that left 191 dead. “Madrid was a wake-up call that the Senate has finally heard,” said Carper. “More needs to be done to make our rail lines, subways and public transportation systems as secure as possible. We all know that open-air transportation systems make for attractive terrorist targets. This legislation will help provide the equipment and workforce necessary to make those systems more secure.” The legislation the Banking panel passed today, entitled “The Public Transportation Terrorism Prevention Act,” would create a needs-based grant program within the Department of Homeland Security to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities within transit systems. DHS would then develop strategies for alleviating those risks and create a framework for government agency coordination. The legislation is designed to shore up existing confusion over which federal agency is mainly responsible for transit security by transferring most of those security duties from the Federal Transit Administration to the Department of Homeland Security. It would require the FTA and the DHS to develop a “memorandum of understanding” laying out both agencies’ roles when it comes to developing security standards, setting federal priorities, and coordinating with transit agencies. It would also order FTA to transmit to DHS 37 risk assessments conducted over the past few years for review and possible augmentation. DHS would then conduct additional assessments, update them on a regular basis, and use them to distribute myriad of grants made possible under the bill. The U. S. transportation system includes 3.9 million miles of roads, over 100,000 miles of rail, 600,000 bridges, more than 300 ports, and almost a thousand train and subway stations. The size of the system provides a substantial number of attractive targets to terrorists and simultaneously makes it difficult to provide the level of security associated with air travel. To address these multiple demands, the transit bill would provide funding through three grant sources: · Capital Grant Program – Would provide $3.5 billion for security infrastructure such as surveillance, fencing, redundant-systems equipment, communications and tracking equipment, and detection systems for chemical, biological, radiological and explosive agents. · Operation Grant Fund – Would provide $800 million in 2005, $500 million in 2006 and $200 million in 2007 for workforce training, public awareness campaigns, canine patrols, and costs associated with events of national or international importance. · Research Grant Fund – Would provide $200 million for the study of chemical, biological, radiological or explosive detection technologies, imaging technologies, and others that may have the potential to be effective in deterring terrorist threats. The separate rail security measure would authorize just over $1 billion for Amtrak, freight railroads, rail shippers, and state and local governments to make security enhancements at rail stations across the country. Specifically, that bill would authorize $62 million through DHS for Amtrak to address rail security needs, as well as an additional $660 million for safety and security improvements to Amtrak’s network of tunnels in New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. The legislation also sets up a separate, $350 million grant program for Amtrak, freight railroads, haz-mat shippers, and states and localities to receive money for security upgrades. Another $100 million is authorized for rail security research and development.