New Test Project Will Screen San Fran Ferry Passengers for Explosives

SAN FRANCISCO -- U.S. federal officials will begin screening ferry passengers for explosives under a new pilot project being rolled out in the San Francisco Bay area.

The program, set to begin Monday at the Larkspur terminal of the Golden Gate Ferry, will be the first time ferry passengers will be inspected before boarding, said Jennifer Peppin, the Northwest regional spokeswoman for the federal Transportation Security Administration. Fliers announcing the Secure Automated Inspection Lanes, or SAIL II, program were distributed at ferry terminals this week.

Passenger screening will begin at the Larkspur terminal Marin County, California, during off-peak time trips, but eventually will expand to commuter trips and possibly to the San Francisco terminal at a later date, according to the flier.

An average of 4,300 people boarded the ferry in Larkspur each weekday in 2004.

Plans have not been announced to implement the passenger screenings in other major ferry systems, such as Washington State Ferries or the Staten Island Ferry in New York, Peppin said.

"This is just a 30-day pilot in this area, but I don't think they've determined where it will go beyond this," she said.

The screenings will use document scanning equipment for explosive detection, according to the fliers.

Passengers will be given a piece of paper, which can capture trace amounts of explosives by touch of the hand, and the paper will be passed through the scanning device, the fliers said. If it tests positive, the passenger will undergo a secondary screening.

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