July 26, 2007

Chairman Dodd Secures Transit Security Measure in 9/11 Bill

Washington, D.C. - Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, announced today that he has helped secure new transit security investments and improvements as part of a comprehensive 9-11 Conference Report finalized today by House and Senate conferees . The transit security legislation will provide additional resources -- $3.5 billion over the next four years -- distributed on the basis of risk, directly to public transit systems to better protect against terrorist attacks and mitigate the damage from any attack. The House did not include transit security language in their 9-11 legislation, and Dodd, as a conferee, was successful in including Senate-passed legislation in the conference report. “Worldwide, transit is the top target of terrorist activities,” Dodd said. “We’ve already seen attacks on transit systems in London, Madrid, and Moscow. One of our many cities could easily be a target. Despite this clear warning, our nation still is not properly prepared to face this threat. Each and every day, 14 million Americans step onto buses and trains to go to work, school and other destinations, and they deserve better protection. We must make transit a top priority when it comes to keeping our citizens safe. “This legislation will help bring transit security closer to where it ought to be given the high threat. Beyond the obvious implications of physically protecting our citizens, safe transit systems can help to maintain public confidence, encouraging transit use, reducing pollution, and preventing our cities from being mired in gridlock.” Chairman Dodd’s approved bill includes the following provisions: Security Assessments and Plans The Department of Homeland Security, with the Federal Transit Administration, will conduct security assessments and develop security plans to establish improvements for each transit system. These assessments will be used to establish a process for developing security guidelines and designing a security strategy that minimizes the potential for terrorist threats and maximizes efforts to mitigate damage from attacks. Security Assistance Grants Public transportation agencies will be awarded grants for security measures such as tunnel protection systems, perimeter protection systems, fire protection equipment, closed circuit television monitoring systems, and security training for transit employees. Intelligence Sharing Sufficient financial assistance will be provided for the Information Sharing and Analysis Center for Public Transportation (ISAC), in which all transit agencies are encouraged to participate and some are required. No transit agency will be charged a fee to participate in the ISAC, to prevent cost from being a reason not to participate. Research, Development, and Demonstration Grants and Contracts Grants will be provided to public and private entities to conduct research into technology or methods of deterring and mitigating the effects of terrorist attacks. Worker Training The bill requires transit systems who receive grants to train their front-line workers. Properly trained workers are our first and best line of defense against terrorist attacks. After chairing the first hearing on transit security in the new Congress in January, Dodd won unanimous approval for his transit security measure by the Banking Committee in February. Chairman Dodd then successfully attached the measure to the Senate’s 9-11 package, which was approved in March. The bill was prompted by witnesses who testified before Dodd in January that the current Administration is doing far too little to protect America’s 14 million daily transit riders from the risk of terrorist acts.