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Rail News: Passenger Rail

BART, WMATA review security steps taken since Sept. 11


Since last September, security has taken on new prominence at passenger transportation companies — including passenger rail. And as the Sept. 11 anniversary draws nearer, transit agencies are making sure their passengers know what security measures already were in place and others that have been added.

Bay Area Rapid Transit, for example, on Aug. 29 initiated a security awareness campaign aimed primarily at its riders, but also major employers, institutions and the general public.

At the center of the campaign is a series of posters BART plans to display in transit cars and stations, calling on passengers to help keep the system safe by letting passenger rail officials know if they see anything suspicious, such as unattended packages, backpacks or suitcases, or anything else out of place.

BART officials also are sending letters to major employers and institutions explaining the agency’s procedures in the event an emergency would disrupt service.

Since Sept. 11, the transit agency has increased police presence at key locations, closed restrooms in underground stations, removed of trash receptacles on subway platform levels, swept of all trains at the end of lines, swept stations daily, and offered special training for BART employees.

BART also installed additional surveillance cameras and added intrusion alarms in key areas.

Meanwhile, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority employees plan Sept. 4 to hand out copies of the latest edition of "Dear Fellow Rider," an update/brochure that Chief Executive Officer Richard White has distributed to passengers throughout the past year.

This latest edition outlines the steps Metro has taken — before and since Sept. 11 — to help ensure passenger safety. For example, WMATA operational employees have attended additional training on how to respond to unknown substances. The agency also opened an emergency training facility.

Employees were issued escape masks to use when fleeing the effects of weapons of mass destruction, and Metro Transit Police Department officers were issued personal protective equipment and hand-held chemical detectors.

WMATA officials also removed all trash cans and recycling bins from platforms, and began installing explosion containment trash cans in all 83 stations. MTPD established an Explosive Ordinance team, which consists of two officers and a sergeant to more quickly resolve suspicious package incidents. The police department also added eight additional explosives-detection K-9 teams, which currently are in training.

Meanwhile, WMATA is expanding the use of security technology system-wide, including chemical detectors, security cameras, vehicle locator devices, ID-entry system and security systems in rail yards.

Communication also has been stepped up, with frequent communication with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as between employees and passengers.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/30/2002