In recent years, terrorists have targeted public transport, including attacks on the London Underground, Istanbul Ataturk Airport and Brussels Airport and metro system in in the last year. Gun attacks within public airport areas in Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans, and Los Angeles have shown that the U.S. is not immune to such incidents. Terrorists have also encouraged attacks against surface transportation systems in the United States, as detailed by Transport Security World, with their “Train Derail Operations,” a 94-page English on-line terrorism recruitment and training guide that outlines how a would-be terrorist could attempt a train derailment.
As a response to this growing threat, and President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget which proposes eliminating much of the Federal funding for surface transportation and public airport area security, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman ( (D-NJ 12th District), vice ranking member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced the Surface Transportation and Public Area Security Act of 2017.
If enacted, the legislation would “restore, revamp, and resource important programs” aimed at securing critical soft targets, such as railroads, buses and the public areas of airports. The bill would also aim to enhance federal partnership with state and local stakeholders to protect these vital transit systems and the people who use them.
“It has become increasingly clear that the Federal Government has fallen behind in ensuring that our mass transit systems are secure and safe. Knowing that, I am appalled by the Trump Administration's proposal to cut the few existing transit security programs,” said Rep. Watson Coleman. “The Surface Transportation and Public Area Security Act of 2017 will finally give transit agencies the resources and tools they need to enhance security and commuters nationwide the assurances of safety they deserve. It is imperative that, as federal legislators, we learn from the deadly attacks we’ve seen worldwide and take all the necessary steps to prevent such tragedy on American soil.”
In September, the Republican-controlled House Rules Committee rejected an amendment to the omnibus appropriations bill that would have restored $43 million in funding for TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams — one of the few federal programs that supports rail security. These teams are deployed to provide security at various transportation facilities, including rail and bus stations. The Trump Administration has also proposed cutting the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP), which transit agencies rely on to fund key security measures, from $88 million to only $48 million.
Watson Coleman’s legislation would authorize $400 million for the TSGP, direct TSA to maintain 60 VIPR teams, and restore funding for the Law Enforcement Officer Reimbursement Program. The bill would make law enforcement reimbursement available for surface transportation; increase the deployment of explosive detection canines to surface transportation; require a review of whether it is appropriate for people to be able to carry guns into public transportation areas; and direct the dissemination of best practices for securing against vehicle-based attacks, such as the recent attack in New York.
Read more here in a Fact Sheet from the Office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
Transport Security World will be in Washington D.C. on June 11th-12th at our flagship event - Transport Security & Safety Expo - Michael Lowder, (Director, Office of Intelligence, Security & Emergency Response,USDOT), Lynne Clark( Chief, National Information Assurance Education and Training Program, NSA) and Eddie Mayenschein (Assistant Administrator, Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement, TSA) are all confirmed as speakers.