Experts Warn City Metro Services Would Be an Easy Win for Terrorists

By Published on March 31, 2016

Defense experts warn public transit systems, particularly metro and subway services in major U.S. cities, are target for Islamic terrorists and are at high risk due to poor funding and security.

Terrorists have been using highly populated commuter trains as targets since the tragic bombings in London in 2005, most recently killing 20 with a detonation on the Brussels Subway. While U.S. transit systems have so far avoided attacks, they are regular targets for terrorist organizations.

In recent years authorities uncovered at least six terror plots to attack the transit systems of New York, Washington and Los Angeles. Since 2009, intelligence officials thwarted at least two terrorist plots to detonate explosives in the New York City subway and Washington, D.C., metro, reports Fox News.

“Anybody that thinks we are going to be exempt from this kind of terrorism in America is more optimistic than I think is justified,” Wendell Cox, a former member of the LA county Transportation Commission told Fox News. “I realize it is going to cost some money, but we have to think about doing that kind of thing because an attack can happen tomorrow; it can happen anywhere. We need to get beyond fixing the problem after a whole lot of people have died.”

Washington, D.C.’s metro system transports an average of 725,000 commuters per day. U.S. transit systems service roughly 20 million passengers daily across the nation. Experts worry about the cost and logistics of overhauling security for such a busy and crowded system. Given the fluid daily operations of transit systems, unlike an airport, some officials say metro and subway systems are impossible to fully secure.

Commuter hubs in major U.S. cities such as Union Station in D.C. or Grand Central Station in New York City always have a strong police presence, as well as undercover police officers on the busiest transit lines. Experts say these measures do little to mitigate the risk of a terror plot. Transit officials say additional security measures would bring U.S. transit systems to a grinding halt by preventing easy access for commuters.

Washington, D.C.’s, metro service recently upgraded their security systems, placing cameras in every station of the city and boosting their presence of on ground police officers in stations. While these measures have successfully helped metro police close every case of criminal violence so far this year, there is little evidence it serves any meaningful role in crime prevention.

Federal funding for transit security in the U.S. is meager and regressing despite the resurgent threat of terrorist attacks. The majority of federal funding for transportation security goes to aviation, not city subways and metros. President Obama allocated $7.6 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for fiscal year 2016, directing 76 percent to aviation security. Just 1.1 percent of the budget will go towards security for surface transportation, reports Claims Journal.

Funds from the U.S. Transit Security Grant Program, which used to total $389 million annually for transit security, provides just $87.5 million since 2012.

“The funding has gone down, but the threat to mass transit systems has gone up,” Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat told Claims Journal. “We’re moving the funding in the wrong direction. I don’t think our enemies could better signal to us where they intend to attack.”


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