WASHINGTON, DC– Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins and Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman today held a hearing to discuss lessons learned from the London attacks in July and what more should be done to secure the U.S. mass transit systems.
Testimony was provided by, Edmund “Kip” Hawley, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration; Michael Brown, Chief Operating Officer London Underground; Polly L. Hanson, Chief Metro Transit Police Department Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority; and Rafi Ron, President New Age Security Solutions.
Senators Collins and Lieberman both pointed out that while 14 million Americans use mass transit each day-several times more than the number of those who fly airlines, only a fraction of what is being spent on aviation security is devoted to securing our mass transit systems.
Senator Collins said, “The attacks on London have been described as a “wake-up call” to those responsible for the safety and security of our own mass transit systems. And they are not the first. They echo the alarms set off by earlier attacks on mass transit in Madrid, Moscow, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, and so many other cities around the world. Now that we have the alarm bell, it is time to act.”
Senator Collins added, “Implementing security measures for mass transit, which are open systems of transportation, is both a challenge and a responsibility borne by federal, state, and local government officials as well as private sector owners and operators. Meeting this challenge requires a strategic vision and short and long-term action plans, developed among those parties. And it requires the federal government’s leadership.”
Senator Lieberman said, “Our government has a can do, must do attitude toward aviation security, but does not appear to have the same attitude toward transit security. This must change.
“So many of us use mass transit systems because of their speed, reliability, and convenience,” he added. “Yet the open nature of these transit systems poses some of our greatest security challenges. These challenges should grab the attention of our nation’s best and brightest minds, and should be a much bigger priority for the federal government than they have been.
“After the Senate cut funding for rail and transit security, Senator Collins and I urged the Homeland Security Appropriations Conferees to increase funding for rail and transit security, and I hope this hearing adds support to our request.”