|Mass Transit Terrorism Threated Elevated Following London Bombings|
|Written by Ryan Gray|
|Monday, 11 July 2005 07:26|
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following the bombing of three train stations and a double-decker bus in London, the U.S. federal government elevated the terrorism threat to "Orange," or high, for all domestic mass transit involving passenger rail and buses.
That threat has since been reduced to "Yellow," or "Elevated." Still the mass transit industry is on alert.
Buses have been one of the most heavily identified targets for international terrorism in recent history, wrote the Highway Watch Information Sharing and Analysis Center (HWISAC), which is operated by the American Trucking Association under an on-site contract with the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration at the Transportation Security Operations Center.
"The bus easy access, confined space and high occupancy make it an exceptional target or carrier for a terrorist attack," Highway Watch said on July 7. "In light of recent serious homeland security concerns expressed on the American Transportation Industry, the Highway ISAC suggests operators for surface transportation organizations (bus companies) follow these simple guidelines for the security of your passengers and employees."
Using information compiled through the United Motor Coach Association and the American Bus Association and those extracted from a bus security course developed by the TSA-funded Community Anti-Terrorism Training Institute, Highway made several suggestions on how to make service safer in light of "serious threats to our Transportation Security. Readers are encouraged to seek, implement, and tailor the training and procedures mentioned above for their own operation in the best interests of the safety of their passengers and employees."
The recommendations were:
· Do not allow visitors or unauthorized persons inside bus maintenance, storage, or dispatch facilities without escort, most buses do not require a key to operate and can be used to get into secure or heavily populated areas. Modify physical security measures at these areas to make this goal achievable.
· Provide background checks and identification cards for all employees to include dispatchers, mechanics, cleaners, and drivers. In many cases a bus is granted access to terminals and facilities normal traffic isn't, and therefore requires those working with that bus to have valid immigration and criminal status.
· Train all drivers and dispatchers on observational skills, to better observe and monitor passengers and baggage aboard the bus. Test drivers and dispatch on the use of their training to call for duress without alerting the suspicious person.
· Establish communication between safety staff at the bus service and federal, state, local, and transit law enforcement agencies; to make specific points of contact between both the crime prevention officers and the homeland security officers. This aids the bus service in the speed of attention granted to their needs as well as up to date information on threats concerning the transit sector.
· Maintain strict inventory on all buses, uniforms, IDs, and equipment reporting any missing or stolen items to the Highway ISAC and law enforcement immediately.
· Do not leave buses unattended and unlocked in inconspicuous locations. If the driver has a break or layover, have them do their best to secure the vehicle, leave the inside overhead bins open and the outside storage bays sealed, and park the vehicle in a place where it can be readily observed (by a window, etc.)
· Do bus inspections at the beginning and end of every run, as well as after layovers. Look vigilantly for any new damage or suspicious packages in the passenger compartments, lavatory, exterior, and engine compartment. Maintenance and cleaning personnel shall also be responsible for this activity also.
· Do security assessments, audits, and tests to depots and personnel to ensure the implementation of security practices. Coordinate needs of additional security/police presence at depots with local or transit law enforcement agencies.
· Provide security announcements to passengers over the PA system to remind passengers to take their belongings with them and to report any suspicious packages or activity to the driver immediately, gaining further awareness among the passengers on what may or may not be occurring outside the driver's field of view.
· Train drivers on the safe assessment and handling of suspicious packages aboard their buses. The most important thing is to observe the package for any suspicious writing, wires, sounds, smells, stains, powders, or liquids present. See if there is any ownership information noted on the package. Is the package left or hidden in a place not normally used by customers? Communicate your findings to law enforcement personnel, being as descript as possible and never touch, move, or use cellular or radio equipment in the general proximity of the package.
· Train drivers on the safe evacuation and re-routing of buses and/or passengers during an emergency, providing for proper distances away from possible explosives, keeping passengers together and out of dangerous areas (such as highway shoulders, etc.), and keeping passengers from panicking and evacuating in a disorderly manner.
· Create emergency plans specific to your operation and in conjunction with law enforcement for evacuation, bomb threat, hijacking, fire, and emergency service (during a mass incident).
Highway Watch added that financial assistance for physical security upgrades and equipment can often be obtained through Transportation Security Administration and DHS Urban Area Security Initiative grants and administered through several organizations ranging from transit police agencies to security firms.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 January 2010 12:29|