American Public Transportation Association

The Threat Remains; Congress Needs to Increase Transit Security Funding

“I am not surprised by the new reports that Osama bin Laden had considered attacking U.S. rail. Unfortunately, trains and buses have long been terrorist targets throughout the world. 

This intelligence discovery reinforces what we have known for many years — transportation is the terrorists’ favorite target. A 2002 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report stated that ‘about one-third of terrorist attacks worldwide target transportation systems, and transit systems are the mode most commonly attacked.’ 

The threat to public transportation still clearly exists and the federal government needs to step up to the plate and adequately fund our nation’s public transportation security needs. Transit security is national security and national security is the responsibility of the federal government.

Just last month, Congress reduced transit security for FY 2011 by $50 million from $300 million to $250 million as part of the budget deal. The Obama Administration has proposed $300 million for transit security in FY 2012. Both of these levels of investment are inadequate. The 9-11 Commission Act called for the need for increased investment in transit security and authorized funding at the following levels: $650 million (FY 08), $750 million (FY 09), $900 million (FY 10), and $1.1 billion (FY 11) or $3.4 billion over four years. In fact, over the past four years, Congress has only appropriated less than half of the funding it authorized in the 9-11 Commission Act.

The low level of funding for transit security is out of step with terrorist threats. Based on a survey that was released last year, U.S. public transportation systems need $6.4 billion over five years to meet transit security needs. 

Security and safety are of top priority for public transit systems, but a strong partnership with the federal government, that includes adequate security investment, is essential to make sure that the millions of people who use public transportation are as safe and secure as practical.

Public transportation systems are doing their part and are on high alert. Now it is time for Congress to do its part to change course, make transit security a priority, and pass legislation that dramatically increases the federal transit security investment.

As I have said many times before, ‘We don’t need another wake up call.’”