Potential Vulnerability of our Transit Systems to Terrorist ThreatsNumber C-02-10 6/27/2002
400 Seventh St. S.W.
As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day in the Nation’s capital and around the country, we must continue to be mindful of the potential vulnerability of our transit systems to terrorist threats and the need to ensure that our systems are as secure as possible. Since the tragic events of September 11, each of you has devoted countless human and financial resources to protecting the assets of the nation’s transit systems, and I thank you for your steadfast commitment.
While it is difficult to recommend a detailed counter-strategy without specific threat information, together we must increase the level of vigilant security. I want to assure you that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is continuing to coordinate information about potential threats with various sectors of the Federal government. Should there be a credible alert, we will immediately notify the general managers and security directors at the appropriate transit agencies.
At the same time, it is critical for your agency to develop and maintain relationships with local FBI and law enforcement so that you have access to information about potential security and terrorist threats in your community. Active participation in the local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force is the most effective way to ensure that your agency receives timely information of relevant threats in your local area. In our discussions with the FBI at the national level, they have encouraged the participation of transit agency staff in the local task forces, and have offered to help facilitate these relationships. Please let us know if you have encountered obstacles in this regard so that we may intervene.
As we continue to coordinate efforts at the national level, we are moving forward with the aggressive security initiative launched last fall. The FTA has completed 31 of the 32 security assessments of the largest transit systems. To address the security gaps that have been identified through the assessments, we are deploying Technical Assistance Teams to select transit agencies to assist in revising security and emergency response plans, and to develop customized site-specific training programs.
Please take advantage of the additional resources that have been made available as a result of these assessments:
- Grants of up to $50,000 are available to the largest 100 agencies to organize and conduct full-scale emergency preparedness drills. These funds will enable transit systems to coordinate response with local and regional emergency personnel, including fire, police and EMS. I am pleased that FTA has already approved Emergency Preparedness Drill Grants for 20 transit agencies, and that 20 additional grants will be reviewed within the next few days. Because we are committed to getting the funds to agencies as quickly as possible, FTA has implemented a streamlined process for these grants, which has kept grant approval time to less than one week upon application receipt.
- "Connecting Communities: Emergency Preparedness and Security Forums" are being held in 17 cities across the country. The forums are designed to bring transit agencies together with their local emergency responders, and will help participants gain a better understanding of the roles played by each agency as they begin the process of developing the plans, tools and relationships necessary to respond effectively in an emergency situation.
The first two forums, which were held in Orlando, Florida, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were very successful, and I am confident that they will be similarly received in future cities. I heard first-hand from transit agencies – particularly small to mid-size agencies – as well as emergency responders, that both the relationship-building and informational content of the forums were invaluable.
- Our security assessments have confirmed that there is no substitute for effective security awareness training. To assist in this regard, FTA, in conjunction with the National Transit Institute, has recently launched two new comprehensive security awareness courses targeted to front line transit employees and supervisors. These courses and the accompanying materials are available to transit organizations free of charge. The practices will not only help transit systems "harden the target" relative to terrorism, but will also improve your organization’s overall security – helping to reduce all levels of crime. These courses will ensure that your employees have the training necessary to prioritize issues and respond appropriately at the scene of a threat or incident. Information about these courses can be found at [www.ntionline.com].
For additional information about these and other resources, please visit our website at [http://www.transit-safety.volpe.dot.gov/] or contact Amy Jernigan in the FTA’s Office of Safety and Security at 202-366-6475 or at Amy.Jernigan@dot.gov.
I am confident that by working together we can keep communities across the country safe and moving. Best wishes to you and your employees for a safe and happy July 4th!
Jennifer L. Dorn
cc: Regional Administrators