Friday, July 08, 2005

Why trains can't be as "safe" as planes

AS a train user, you can not help but wonder if more should be done for passenger safety in the wake of the terrible attacks in the UK.

The Los Angeles Times has done an interesting item on how vulnerable all public transport systems are to such things - and how they are second class citizens when it comes to funding considerations from authorities.

"We cannot realistically apply an aviation security model to surface transportation," said Brian Michael Jenkins, director of the Mineta Transportation Institute's National Transportation Security Center in San Jose and a terrorism expert at the Santa Monica-based Rand Corp. think tank.
"We have about 800 million passenger boardings a year on airplanes. We have 430 commercial airports," Jenkins said, compared with about 25 billion boardings on buses, trains and subways each year. "It would take an army" of screeners to check public transit passengers.
But public transit advocates said there were steps that would make the system significantly safer — and would not bankrupt the federal government.
"We think public transit riders are being treated as second-class citizens," said Rose Sheridan, a vice president of the American Public Transit Assn., which represents regional transit systems.
Local transit officials have wish lists of projects they say would enhance their ability to thwart a terrorist attack, as well as other dangers.
They would like to purchase new communications systems and to install more closed-circuit cameras on trains and city buses. They would like intruder detection systems at tunnel openings and other entrances. And larger cities want to install automatic chemical and radiological detectors like equipment used in Washington.

But few agencies have the resources to buy that kind of equipment.

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