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WMATA's Sarles testifies at House hearing on transit security progress


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has “substantially” improved emergency preparedness of its transit system, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles testified Friday before the House Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and National Archives.

The system has implemented a “layered and strategic approach to protecting customers, employees and assets with a combination of technology, training and target hardening,” he said, according to a prepared statement.

WMATA “has a thorough, up-to-date threat assessment that guides resource allocation and personnel deployment,” said Sarles. “And our transit police now collaborate with more than 40 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to enhance security in the region and coordinate anti-terrorism efforts, including the FBI and TSA with whom we have active and positive partnerships.”

WMATA uses “highly visible” policing techniques to deter threats to the system, Sarles and WMATA Police Chief Michael Taborn said.

The transit system responded to 339 calls for service involving a suspicious person, package, bomb threat or similar situation, Taborn reported.

WMATA also has implemented multiple high-tech security measures, including a chemical detection system that alerts incident commanders to the chemical’s identity, and provides estimates of the above- and below-ground spread of the chemical to protect public safety, Sarles said.

Since FY2006, WMATA has received $108.6 million in transit security funds, for which it has obligated 100 percent for specific projects and spent nearly $24 million to date.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/27/2011