Management & Operations

Transit security still lacking, experts say

Posted on October 25, 2005

Four years after Sept. 11, U.S. urban transit systems are still lacking in many areas of security, including standards, preparedness and emergency response, according to a panel of security experts. The panel, which spoke during the 6th Annual TriState Transit Symposium, hosted last week by New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, also said that technology should not be seen as the cure-all for security. Panelist David Gaier, a journalist and former security consultant who writes widely on terrorism, told the group that poor incident command was still a huge vulnerability for urban transit systems in New York and around the nation. Gaier likened the situation to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. "The same thing could happen in transit systems: incident command and control cannot be sorted out after the bomb goes off." He also acknowledged that it was difficult for transit agencies to determine the best use of their people and funds, because federal security standards, due at the end of 2004, were not completed. Rob Libengood, CEO of Pittsburgh-based SecuraComm, said that a transit security anti-terrorism program must include a combination of policies and procedures, technology and trained manpower. Libengood said that technology was a waste of money if personnel were not properly trained to use it and respond appropriately. "Response has been the weakest link...transit systems must improve their response through training and analyzing results from regular drills," he said.

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