U.S. rail security lacking coordination

Published 12 October 2005

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just released a study critical of the federal government’s efforts to protect mass transit systems from terrorists. These efforts are disjointed and do not receive enough input from system owners. There are four federal agencies involved in rail security, led by the Transportation Security Administration TSA). As of July, however, TSA had not yet completed a risk assessment for the passenger rail sector, and it has also failed to develop a method on how to rank and compare risks. “Until both of these efforts have been accomplished, in collaboration with rail industry stakeholders, TSA will not be able to prioritize passenger rail assets based on risk and help guide investment decisions to protect them,” the GAO said.

There are thirty-two U.S. mass transit systems and they carry eleven million passengers a day. By May 2005 TSA had conducted individual assessments on 700 transit stations and 73 bridges and tunnels, but 370 assessments remained to be completed, GAO said.