Mr. Chairman, the Department of Homeland Security issued directives for the transit industry in May 2004 which would require that transit authorities beef up security and to take a series of precautions to set the stage for more extensive measures without any federal funding assistance. Transit systems have already carried out many of the measures that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is calling for, such as drafting security plans, removing trash bins and setting up procedures to deal with suspicious packages. The cost of these measures and further diligence taken during times of heightened alert is of particular concern to us. We look forward to working with you in addressing these issues.
ONGOING TRANSIT SECURITY PROGRAMS
Mr. Chairman, while transit agencies have moved to a heightened level of security alertness, the leadership of APTA has been actively working with its strategic partners to develop a practical plan to address our industry's security and emergency preparedness needs. In light of our new realities for security, the APTA Executive Committee has established a Security Affairs Steering Committee. This committee addresses our security strategic issues and directions for our initiatives. This committee will also serve as the mass transit sector coordination council that will interface with DHS and other federal agencies forming the government coordinating council. In partnerships with the Transportation Research Board, APTA supported two Transportation Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Panels that identified and initiated specific projects developed to address Preparedness/Detection/Response to Incidents and Prevention and Mitigation.
In addition to the TCRP funded efforts, APTA has been instrumental in the development of numerous security and emergency preparedness tools and resources. Many of these resources were developed in close partnership with the FTA and we are presently focused on continuing that same level of partnership with various entities within DHS. Also, APTA has reached out to other organizations and international transportation associations to formally engage in sharing information on our respective security programs and to continue efforts that raise the bar for safety and security effectiveness.
APTA has long-established safety audit programs for commuter rail, bus, and rail transit operations. Within the scope of these programs are specific elements pertaining to Emergency Response Planning and Training as well as Security Planning. In keeping with our industry's increased emphasis on these areas, the APTA Safety Management Audit Programs have been modified to place added attention to these critical elements.
Mr. Chairman, in light of our nation's heightened security needs post 9/11, we believe that increased federal investment in public transportation security by Congress and DHS is critical. The public transportation industry has made great strides in transit security improvements since 9/11 but much more needs to be done. We need the federal government increase its support for transit security grants that will help transit systems continue to address the $6 billion in identified transit security investment needs. We also respectfully urge Congress to provide $500,000 to the Department of Homeland Security so that DHS can in turn provide that amount in grant funding to the APTA security standards program which includes participation of our federal partners to assist with the development of transit security standards and practices consistent with what we have already seen through the FTA. In addition, we respectfully urge Congress to provide $600,000 to maintain the Public Transit ISAC.
We have also found that investment in public transit security programs, resources and infrastructures provides a direct benefit in preparation and response to natural disasters as well. Again, we appreciate the committee's strong support for transit security in recent years. We look forward to building on our cooperative working relationship with the Department of Homeland Security and Congress to begin to address these needs. We again thank you and the Committee for allowing us to provide testimony on these critical issues and look forward to working with you on safety and security issues.