Washington, DC – Co-chairs of the House Public Transportation Caucus, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL), have introduced the bipartisan Securing America’s Facilities, Equipment, and Rail: Taking Responsibility for American National Security in Transit (SAFER TRANSIT) Act to better secure our country’s public transit systems and the infrastructure we rely on.
“I join Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) in introducing this legislation to make sure our rail and bus carriers are safe as we see an increased threat level to our transportation systems,” said Rep. Comstock. “With a constantly evolving threat environment the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) needs to take the lead in the proper oversight of critical transportation systems. Unfortunately, key provisions of the 9/11 Act have not gone into effect, and this legislation will help keep our transportation systems safe.”
“Critical passenger rail safety requirements from the 9/11 Act have yet to be implemented, including a regulation for rail carriers to complete security assessments, a regulation for rail security training, and a program for conducting background checks on rail employees,” said Rep. Lipinski. “With ever-growing security concerns across the nation, our bill directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop a process to follow through on critical security provisions.”
The TSA deploys Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) at high-risk transportation locations to increase the level of law enforcement visibility and terrorism deterrence. Unfortunately, authorization for VIPR teams and Surface Transportation Security Inspectors expired in 2011. The legislation introduced today would reauthorize this program.
The SAFER TRANSIT Act also provides stakeholders with the resources they need to effectively respond to a rapidly changing threat environment by reauthorizing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) research programs through 2020. This important research focuses on solutions to fill capability and vulnerability gaps, such as explosive detection, identified by TSA and transit agencies.
In addition, the bill creates a specific transit security training program through the DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and makes it available to officers from local law enforcement agencies that will attend the course and return to their home departments to share the tactics and training they have learned with their peers.
The bill also reauthorizes the Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP) which funds training and exercises, facility security enhancements, passenger screening, and vehicle security measures for over-the-road bus and truck operators.