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Dear Secretary Napolitano:
On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and its more than 1,500 member organizations, I write to express our priorities for public transportation security within the Fiscal Year 2012 (FY 2012) budget for the Department Homeland Security. Americans use public transportation 35 million times each weekday. We believe that the single most important step the Department can take to assist public transportation agencies in protecting these Americans is to address the inequitable resource allocation made in prior years and provide budgetary resources consistent with the authorizations contained in the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act. We urge you to ask for $1.1 billion for public transportation security grants in your FY 2012 budget request.
In 2009, APTA conducted a survey of U.S. transit agencies to update their security investment needs and their experience with the current program. The results of the survey demonstrate that security investment needs persist for all transit agencies and currently exceed $6.4 billion. Despite billions of dollars already invested from federal, state and local sources, it is important to understand that facilities have changed and expanded; our understanding of risk, consequence, response and recovery has changed; and technology and operational approaches continue to evolve.
Congress recognized the need for DHS to focus on surface transportation and public transportation security when it enacted the 9/11 Act. That legislation authorized $3.4 billion for public transportation security improvements, and authorized additional funding for the security of rail carriers (freight, passenger and commuter rail) over a four-year period. And yet, over the period covered by the 9/11 Act authorizations, only $1.25 billion of the $3.4 billion authorized for public transportation security has been appropriated, and even less has been directed in grants to transit agencies. Since its inception, DHS has consistently failed to request the authorized or recommended funding levels. This has contributed to Congress providing insufficient appropriations for the program.
There is no question that threats to transit systems remain a problem. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 2002 report which said “about one-third of terrorist attacks worldwide target transportation systems, and transit systems are the mode most commonly attacked.” More recently, on February 29, 2008, the Office of Intelligence of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released a report concluding that public transportation in America remains vulnerable to terrorist attack. The report states: “The volume of previous attacks and recent plotting against mass transit systems overseas demonstrates continued strong terrorist interest in targeting this sector.” A recent analysis by the Mineta Transportation Institute confirms that terrorist attacks on transit systems remain a serious threat.
In addition to resource allocation for transit security grants, we also urge the Department to support the Transportation Security Network Management Mass (TSNM) Transit Division with the resources it requires to enhance its stakeholder outreach and improve the collaborative efforts it has initiated in recent years. We are pleased that the TSNM Mass Transit Division has made a significant effort to engage the industry and support initiatives that have broad security benefits, such as the Public Transportation Security Standards Development Program and the Public Transit Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), including funding support to sustain the on-going development of the Public Transit ISAC.
We remain concerned about resource allocation issues within the Department of Homeland Security with regard to technology research and development and the approach taken in addressing the needs of transit agencies. In September 2008, the Mass Transit SCC Security Technology Working Group issued draft recommendations which identified concerns over the lack of a formal structure that brings the federal government and transit industry together to discuss transit security technology priorities and areas of potential interest for technology advancement and research. The Working Group believes that TSA Research and Development, and DHS Science and Technology programs do not conduct adequate early outreach with the industry to determine needs ahead of actual technology development and deployment efforts. Early and active engagement of industry could lead to a better understanding of varying transit agency needs, as well as better research and development overall.
Finally, technical assistance is necessary for support of transit industry efforts in the area of cybersecurity. Concerns over cybersecurity have increased across the Federal government and throughout the country over recent years, and transit agencies are no different. As significant users of power and computerized control systems, cybersecurity will remain a significant concern for an industry responsible for the safe and secure movement of 35 million daily riders. APTA is pleased that the TSNM Mass Transit is supporting industry efforts to advance security standards development including cybersecurity standards, and we urge your continued support in this area.
We appreciate your consideration of the security needs of the nation’s public transportation providers and riders. We hope that we can work together to address the historic funding disparity within the FY 2012 budget process. Please have your staff contact Brian Tynan of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4897 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this matter or if we can provide any further information.