Committee on Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
January 18, 2007
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to provide testimony to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on the security and safety of public transportation systems. We appreciate your interest in public transportation security, and we look forward to working with you.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public and private member organizations including transit systems and commuter 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 transit services and products. More than ninety percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.
Mr. Chairman, public transportation is one of the nation's critical infrastructures. We cannot overemphasize the critical importance of the service we provide in communities throughout the country. Americans take more than 9.7 billion transit trips each year. People use public transportation vehicles over 33 million each weekday. This is more than sixteen times the number of daily boardings on the nation's domestic airlines.
In particular, we want to recognize and thank this committee for its leadership in advancing legislation that enhances the federal role in protecting transit users against terrorism. The Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee has unanimously approved transit security bills in each of the last two Congresses, both of which also passed the Senate unanimously, and its leadership led the successful effort in the Senate to amend the port security bill last year to include a transit security authorization. We appreciate the committee's decision to make transit security a priority in the new Congress, and the work you have done with the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and other committees with jurisdiction over homeland security.
Safety and security are the top priority of the public transportation industry. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report several years ago which said "about one- third of terrorist attacks worldwide target transportation systems, and transit systems are the mode most commonly attacked." Transit systems took many steps to improve security prior to 9/11 and have significantly increased efforts since then. Since September 11, 2001, public transit agencies in the United States have spent over $2.5 billion on security and emergency preparedness programs, and technology to support these programs, from their own budgets with only minimal federal funding. Last year's attacks in Mumbai and the previous attacks in London and Madrid further highlight the need to strengthen security on public transit systems in the U.S. and to do so without delay. We need to do what we can to prevent the kind of attacks that caused more than 400 deaths and nearly 3,000 injuries on rail systems in Mumbai, London and Madrid.