Reps. Lipinski and Comstock Introduce Bill to Protect the Safety of Commuters (July 19, 2016)
Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL-3) and Barbara Comstock (VA-10), co-chairs of the House Public Transportation Caucus, have 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.
In May, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Inspector General released a report regarding the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) oversight of passenger rail security. The report found that a number of requirements included in the 9/11 Act involving theTSA’s ability to conduct sufficient oversight of rail security have yet to be implemented.
“Right now, three key 9/11 Act passenger rail requirements still remain incomplete,” stated Reps. Lipinski and Comstock. “With ever-growing security concerns across the nation, our bill directs the TSA to develop a process to follow through on these important 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 and Comstock’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 DHS research programming through 2020. This important research focuses on solutions to fill capability and vulnerability gaps identified by TSA and transit stakeholders.
In addition, the bill creates a transit security-specific 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 they have learned with other officers.
“The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) welcomes expanded support from the Department of Homeland Security to help secure our nation’s public transportation systems,” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard White. “The SAFER TRANSIT Act would provide additional resources to train law enforcement personnel to patrol and respond to security emergencies in and around public transit facilities, and needed funding for security related research and development. We appreciate Reps. Lipinski and Comstock’s leadership in introducing this bill.”
“The American Bus Association (ABA) supports the SAFER TRANSIT Act, which would reauthorize several grant programs vital to the security of the traveling public, including those traveling by motorcoach,” said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso. “Motorcoach companies carry out more than 600 million passenger trips annually and our industry remains committed to the safety and security of our passengers. We look forward to working with Congressman Lipinski and Congresswoman Comstock to move this critical legislation forward.”
“The Chicago Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is pleased that Rep. Lipinski is taking the lead on funding, researching, and developing programs that will further ensure the security and safety of our public transportation systems and riders,” said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden. “We thank Congressman Lipinski for his continued advocacy on behalf of our region-wide transit system and its millions of daily passengers.”