Lipinski Introduces Bill to Protect the Safety of Public Transit Riders

In the wake of recent terror attacks on transit targets in Europe, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3), co-chair of the House Public Transportation Caucus and a senior member on the Highway and Transit Subcommittee, has introduced the bipartisan Securing America’s Facilities, Equipment, and Rail: Taking Responsibility for American National Security in Transit (SAFER TRANSIT) Act to better secure our country’s public transit systems and the infrastructure we rely on.  

“Critical passenger rail safety requirements from the 9/11 Act have yet to be implemented, including a regulation for rail carriers to complete security assessments, a regulation for rail security training, and a program for conducting background checks on rail employees,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “With ever-growing security concerns across the nation, my bill directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop a process to follow through on critical security provisions.”

The TSA deploys Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) at high-risk transportation locations to increase the level of law enforcement visibility and terrorism deterrence.  Unfortunately, authorization for VIPR teams and Surface Transportation Security Inspectors expired in 2011.  Lipinski’s legislation would reauthorize this program.

The SAFER TRANSIT Act also provides stakeholders with the resources they need to effectively respond to a rapidly changing threat environment by reauthorizing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) research programs through 2020.  This important research focuses on solutions to fill capability and vulnerability gaps, such as explosive detection, identified by TSA and transit agencies.

In addition, the bill creates a specific transit security training program through the DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and makes it available to officers from local law enforcement agencies that will attend the course and return to their home departments to share the tactics and training they have learned with their peers.

The bill also reauthorizes the Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP) which funds training and exercises, facility security enhancements, passenger screening, and vehicle security measures for over-the-road bus and truck operators.

“The American Bus Association (ABA) strongly supports the SAFER TRANSIT Act and applauds Congressman Lipinski for taking the lead on this important issue,” said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso.  “The motorcoach industry remains committed to the safety and security of the more than 600 million passenger trips we carry out annually.  The security threat to the transportation industry is real and increasing with large motor vehicles being used as weapons around the world.  These grant programs play a critical role in mitigating risks facing our industry and recognize the importance of securing transportation operations for the traveling public.  We look forward to working with Congressman Lipinski to move this bill forward and increasing our nation’s overall transportation security.”

“The Chicago Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is pleased that Congressman Lipinski is once again demonstrating leadership on this important initiative,” stated RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden.  “Advocating for the development of programs that will further ensure the security and safety of our nation’s public transportation systems should be a high priority and we are glad that these issues are being highlighted.  We thank Congressman Lipinski for his continued advocacy on behalf of our region-wide transit system and its millions of daily passengers.”

“The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) appreciates Rep. Lipinski’s leadership in introducing the SAFER Transit Act,” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard White.  "As public transportation systems continue to face the threat of terrorist and cyber-attacks and regularly respond to other security emergencies in and around public transit facilities, this legislation would provide vital federal support to enhance transit security throughout our nation.  The bill would develop a Public Transit Security Police Training Program to train law enforcement personnel and continue essential funding for security related research and development.”   

SAFER TRANSIT Act (06/23/1705:34 PMET )
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