Transit Officials Respond To London Attacks

July 8, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — On behalf of its more than 1,500 members, the American Public Transportation Association offered its condolences to the citizens of Great Britain and condemned yesterday's terrorist attacks on London as "despicable."

In response to the attack, the Bush administration raised the terror alert to code orange for the nation's regional and inter-city passenger rail, subways and metropolitan bus systems.

APTA President William W. Millar stressed that public transportation is one of the safest forms of transportation and noted that U.S. public transportation systems have spent more than $2 billion on security since 9/11.

"There is no priority more important to our nation's public transportation systems than safety and security," Millar stated. He said transit systems around the country stepped up precautionary security measures Thursday, including additional police visibility, undercover security, canine patrols and security sweeps on vehicles and stations.

"Riders are key to transit security," he said. "We are asking everyone to be especially vigilant as they travel and to report any suspicious activity to appropriate officials."

Millar also called on the Senate to dramatically increase funding for transit security needs.

Jennifer Kulczuk, director of communications for The Rapid, said local transit officials' thoughts and prayers are with all of London

The Rapid has a system security plan in place to respond to the different levels of a terror alert, she said.

"Going to code orange has an impact on what we're doing, but it's activities the bus riders and the public probably wouldn't notice," Kulczuk said.

One of the things that the Federal Transit Administration now requires is that any system that serves an area of over 200,000 dedicate at least 1 percent of its capital funds to system security projects, she said.

"For us, in fiscal year 2005 that would mean about $60,000. However, we're using additional capital funds above and beyond what is desired. In our capital program we have budgeted closer to $400,000 to assure we do have adequate security measures in place."

Those measures include such things as upgraded fencing around Rapid Central Station, additional surveillance equipment and some upgraded camera systems for transit vehicles, she said.

The Rapid participates in the FTA's Transit Watch Program, a nationwide safety and security awareness campaign that encourages transit passengers and employees to do their part to help maintain a safe transit environment.

"If passengers see something that looks suspicious or out of the ordinary, they're asked to let the driver know," Kulczuk said. "There are a lot of riders on the buses every day, and the more people we have on the look out, the better."           

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