Bill Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association (ABA), testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways, Transit and Pipelines, requesting long-term security funding.
According to Millar, security is the top priority among public transit operators but is also a federal responsibility. “We urge Congress to provide at least $560 million in the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill for transit security grants to assist transit systems in addressing the $6 billion in identified transit security investment needs,” said Millar.
Annual funding at this level would allow for dramatic improvement in transit security over a 10-year period, Millar said. APTA’s head also asked for $500,000 so that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can provide grant funding to the APTA program to develop security standards.
“We recommend that the existing process for distributing DHS grants be modified so that funds are made directly to transit authorities, rather than through state administrating agencies,” said Millar.
Pantuso said that, since 2001, Congress has passed two bills that help private bus operators improve security by providing funds for training, equipment and maintaining the security of bus passengers, facilities and personnel. Additionally, since FY 2002, the Appropriations Committees have approved a total of $55 million for bus security grants. “The private bus industry has made good use of these funds,” said Pantuso.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has not yet passed a comprehensive bus security bill. This bill is needed to provide funds for training, new equipment and high-tech information systems for buses, he added.