*An identical testimony was sent to the United States House of Representatives.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to submit written testimony on the FY 2017 funding needs for public transportation security programs within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Since 9/11, APTA has advocated for increases in federal funding to address the security needs of the nation’s public transportation systems.
Recent attacks in the Brussels subway station confirm that public transportation systems continue to be high-value targets for terrorists. We have specifically urged Congress to substantially increase appropriations for transportation security programs within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as appropriations in recent years have been far less than the levels authorized under the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-53). Additionally, we strongly urge the Subcommittee to continue funding within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to support national transportation security information sharing and analysis and the development of transit security standards.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit, international association of nearly 1,500 public and private member organizations, including transit systems and commuter, intercity and high-speed rail operators; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient, and economical public transportation services and products. In accordance with the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, APTA has been recognized by the Department of Homeland Security as serving in the capacity of the Mass Transit Sector Coordinating Council.
Public Transportation Systems Continue to Be Terrorist Targets
The federally-charted, Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has documented terrorist attacks on surface transportation vehicles and facilities dating back to the 1970s. MTI studies report that there have been 2,665 worldwide attacks on public transportation targets (i.e. subways, commuter trains, intercity trains, subways, subway stations, subway/train tracks, busses, bus stations, bus stops, ferries, and ferry terminals) through 2014 – this horrific statistic has recently increased as it has been reported that more than half of the 35 fatalities from the recent Brussels attack were victims in the Maalbeek Metro (subway) Station. Several other authoritative sources have continued to acknowledge that the risk to public transportation systems for a terrorist attack is high and has not diminished. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has testified and reported to Congress that public transportation systems remain vulnerable to terrorist attack.
We have been very fortunate to date in not having a successful terrorist attack committed on a U.S. transit system. However, several attacks have been foiled and conspiring terrorists have been arrested who intended to attack some of our largest systems in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Jersey. A 2012 MTI report analyzes thirteen terrorist plots against public surface transportation that were uncovered and thwarted by law enforcement between 1997 and 2010 – seven of the thirteen plots were against U.S. systems. Our U.S. public transportation systems continue to be at risk of attack.
Increased Investments in Transit Security are Required
Since 2006, annual public transportation ridership in the United States has surpassed 10 billion trips with 10.8 billion trips recorded in 2014 – the highest annual total in 58 years. As ridership continues to grow, public transportation security risk exposure and security needs also increase. However, increased ridership and risks have been met with sharply reduced federal investment in transit security. In FY 2009 the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) made $348.6 million dollars available for transit systems and an additional $150 million was made available for transit security through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) – a total of $498.6 million in FY 2009. In stark contrast, the current FY 2016 TSGP allocates $87 million for transit security – an 83% decrease in funding from FY 2009 levels. More troubling, for FY 2017, the Administration proposed an additional 15% cut to the TSGP. APTA opposes any funding reduction as we remain concerned with the existing underinvestment in the security of our nation’s transit systems.
We recognize that pressures on our federal budget are severe, with many important national funding priorities, however the trend of decreasing investment in transit security puts many lives, billions of dollars of infrastructure, and billions of dollars of regional and national commerce at risk. Transit agencies across the country have identified more than $6 billion of capital and operational security needs. Despite significant spending on security by state and local government, the TSGP is the primary source of federal funding for security needs of public transportation agencies; APTA urges Congress to acknowledge the risk that our transit systems continue to face and restore appropriations for the TSGP in this and subsequent appropriation bills to levels closer to those authorized under the 9/11 Commission Act.
Lastly, APTA concurs with the intent of the 9/11 Commission Act, calling for a transit security program that aims to primarily address capital needs, however, we also believe that operational needs should continue to be eligible for a limited portion of transit security funding. Both capital and operating programs can help protect our riders.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Surface Transportation Security
APTA and the public transportation industry have maintained a strong and beneficial working relationship with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in recent years, in particular, in the areas of information and intelligence sharing and analysis and security standards development.
Public Transit & Over the Road Bus Information–Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISAC)
In 2002, the Secretary of Transportation designated APTA as the sector lead for creating and operating the Public Transportation–Information Sharing and Analysis Center (PT–ISAC); in turn, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funded the center’s start-up, then its operations for several years thereafter. In 2012, the center’s funding shifted from the FTA to the TSA. APTA, TSA, and the FTA have collaborated for years through the Mass Transit Sector Coordinating Council to streamline the information sharing environment within the public transit industry and eliminate redundancy.
The APTA/TSA/FTA partnership led to the formation of an industry/government “Security Information Sharing Working Group” that incorporated the Association of American Railroads (AAR) as a partner. The working group subsequently developed the Transit and Rail Intelligence Awareness Daily (TRIAD) report as a concise, daily security notification platform made available through the PT–ISAC and the freight–rail focused, Surface Transportation (ST)–ISAC. The TRIAD provides ISAC members with a quick, web–based, functional synopsis in three fundamental areas: suspicious activities, terrorism, and counterterrorism analysis. The ISACs also offer a Daily Open Source Cyber Report that serves as a reliable vehicle for TSA to distribute their critical industry updates. The APTA–
TSA partnership was further strengthened in 2012 when TSA requested that APTA create the Highway ISAC (now called the Over the Road Bus–ISAC or OTRB–ISAC), and within the new ISAC implement an “incident call center”.
The PT–ISAC and now the OTRB–ISAC have proven to be essential resources within the public transit and motor–coach industries. The PT–ISAC is the single most important and effective national information and intelligence sharing resource that public transit systems can access to protect their agencies from physical and cyber–attacks. The PT–ISAC delivers comprehensive national intelligence information with additional analysis and recommendations from government intelligence reports. The efficiency, responsiveness, and critical commentary provided through the PT, OTRB, and ST–ISACs are critical to national transportation security efforts. Continued federal support for our ISACs is vital.
Transit Security Standards Development
The APTA Transit Security Standards Program allows for capturing lessons learned and industry best practices of transit systems that have implemented successful security strategies, so that other systems have program standards and models to build upon or replicate. The standards program also allows DHS/TSA to vet security ideas with the industry rather than implementing untested mandates/regulations on transit agencies that might have significantly different operating environments.
The program continues to develop a substantial workload of standards and recommend practices that are reviewed by five security working groups:
1) Fixed Infrastructure
2) Security Risk Management
3) Emergency Management
4) Enterprise Cyber Security
5) Control and Communications Cyber Security
Cyber security is an increasing global concern and a particular area of focus within the Standards Program. IT systems are central components in the operations and administration of small, medium, and large transit agencies. A cyber-attack or IT system breach of a transit agency can pose increased levels of concern as cyber threats may not only compromise administrative/business systems (i.e. employee records, inventory data, etc.), but can lead to the malfunction of critical control, GPS, and communications systems in vehicles or track infrastructure.
The Transit Security Standards Development program paired with the contributions of the PTISAC, is an invaluable tool for the industry and greatly enhances the safety, security, and operational efficiency of public transportation systems across the country.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I thank you for this opportunity to share our industry’s views on the need to increase federal investment on public transportation security. There is no greater priority for public transportation systems than the safety and security of passengers and workers. As our public transportation systems continue to deal with the risk of attack, increased investments for enhanced security are an immediate necessity. We also reiterate the need for continued federal support for the operation of the Public Transportation (PT) and Over the Road Bus (OTRB)–ISACs and the Transit Security Standards Development program.