Mumbai bombing prompts officials
to seek $200 million from Congress
to beef up BART security
By Erica Holt, Bay City News Service
July 12, 2006
In the wake of recent deadly bombings of packed commuter trains
in Bombay, India, Bay Area Rapid Transit officials are urging
the U.S. Senate to approve a $50 million boost to transit security
for the agency.
Congress has provided BART with about $150 million annually since
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. According to BART officials, $50
million additional federal dollars should be a drop in the bucket,
compared to the more than $250 million the agency says it needs
BART Board Vice President Lynette Sweet wrote in a July 10 letter
to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer that the requested $200 million "would
provide a much-needed funding increase over the last few years
and allow transit systems in California and across the nation
to be better prepared for possible terrorist attacks.''
According to BART officials, the transit system has been at elevated
security levels before the attacks in India because of the recent
anniversary of the 2005 London subway bombings. The agency cites
a Brookings Institution report that found 42 percent of all terrorist
attacks worldwide from 1991 to 2001 targeted rail and bus systems.
BART has spent more than $21 million since the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks, enhancing security, adding bomb-sniffing dogs to BART
police and providing emergency response training for staff. According
to BART, the federal government has reimbursed the agency for
BART officials were on alert Tuesday morning after a report of
"suspicious people,'' according to agency spokesman Linton
Johnson. BART police conducted a 15-minute search of certain San
Francisco stations, although no one turned up, according to Johnson.
The U.S. Senate will vote on a Homeland Security Appropriations
Bill later this week that has passed the Committee on Appropriations
without including additional funding for BART. The U.S. House
of Representatives in June passed a version of the bill that would
include the $50 million extra, or $200 million total, requested
BART officials hope the U.S. Senate will match at least that
Sweeney said in a statement: "Our public transit systems
are, by their very nature, attractive to terrorists. BART and
other transit agencies have been working diligently to improve
security, but, like anything else, it takes money.''
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