APTA President Urges Increased Transit Security Funding

The president of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), William Millar, extended his organization's sympathy to Londoners today, while he also called for an increased focus on security for U.S. public transportation vehicles and facilities.

While noting that public transportation is statistically a highly safe form of transport, Millar called for government officials to renew their focus on transportation security.

"There is no priority more important to our nation's public transportation systems than safety and security," said Millar in a statement released by the APTA, a 1,500-member organization of public transportation-related companies. "Transit systems around the country have stepped up precautionary security measures in light of today's attacks in London, including additional police visibility, undercover security, canine patrols and security sweeps on vehicles and stations."

An APTA-conducted survey in 2004 recorded transit security needs of $6 billion, according to responding members. That contrasts with an estimated $250 million spent and earmarked for public transit security since the Sept. 11 attacks. This year saw the budgeting of $150 million for transit/rail security grants from Congress.

The $250 million spent on security for public transportation contrasts directly with an estimated $18 billion that has been spent on air security since 9/11. Millar noted that despite greater numbers of Americans using public transportation than aviation channels (approximately two-to-one), there is a distinct disparity in appropriation of security dollars.

"When it comes to security," said Millar, "public transportation riders are treated as second-class citizens by the federal government."