In response to the London bombings, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security raised the threat level from Code Yellow (elevated) to Code Orange (high) for mass transit systems, marking new Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoffs debut. Mass transit officials are calling for more transit security funding by Congress.
The bombings could lead Congress to rethink cuts in security funds for mass transit. At ENR press time July 12, the Senate was debating the 2006 funding bill for the Dept. of Homeland Security. Earlier, the Senate Appropriations Committee had agreed to slash the bills mass transit security funds by $50 million to $100 million.
According to a survey of U.S. transit agencies conducted by the American Public Transportation Association last year, $6 billion is needed for extra transit security. Since 9/11, the U.S. public transportation industry has received only $250 million in such funding, APTA says.
Chertoff said July 7 the department was "reviewing intelligence streams and informa tion out of London very closely" and would continue to provide regular updates to the public. He said the U.S. had received no "specific...information suggesting an imminent attack here."
The heightened alert applies to regional and inner city passenger rail, subways and metropolitan bus systems. In major cities such as New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C., police and bomb-sniffing dogs were increasing random inspections of city buses and patrols of subways. Chertoff also called for more perimeter barriers, spot-tests, video surveillance and inspection of trash receptacles and storage areas. He added that "we are not suggesting that people avoid public transportation systems."