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5 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Transit systems in North America, as elsewhere around the targeted transit systems around the world, individual tran- world, are faced with law enforcement and crime preven- sit providers are responsible for the safety and security of tion issues that many rarely thought about two decades ago. patrons, employees, stations, and vehicles. In the event of rail In the 1980s and 1990s, transit systems, particularly those systems, this concern extends to their rights-of-way (ROWs), in large cities, saw their major law enforcement problems which throughout this synthesis rely on the U.S.DOT's Fed- as containing growing numbers of homeless persons who eral Railroad Administration (FRA) definition of the path- turned stations into encampments and often rode equipment way on which a train travels and that any piece of equipment endlessly when they had nowhere else to go. Systems were or person within 25 ft of the track is considered to be in the also concerned with graffiti, which symbolized to patrons ROW. Although transit agencies may receive assistance from that transit agencies which were unable to keep their stations all levels of government, starting with their cities or coun- and railcars clean were also unlikely to be able to keep the ties and also including federal assistance primarily from patrons safe. As graffiti was literally wiped clean from those either the U.S.DOT's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) stations and railcars, "scratchiti," which involved etching or from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the rather than spray painting onto surfaces, presented a newer primary responsibility for securing each of these transit sys- variation of an old problem. tems rests with the individual transit agencies. Commuter rail agencies, which are regulated by the FRA rather than by Transit agencies addressed these issues locally. Larger the FTA, are also eligible for a number of safety and secu- agencies turned to law enforcement solutions, increasing rity grants as well as for funds under the Federal Highway patrols in stations, on vehicles, and in rail yards. They also Administration (FHWA) Highway-Rail Crossing Program. relied on emerging crime prevention through environmen- tal design (CPTED) principles, lighting and fencing, and The job is huge. In 2000, mass transit systems provided electronic video surveillance to monitor physical property. more than 9 billion passenger trips and employed more Smaller systems relied on less labor-intensive or less costly than 350,000 people; by 2002, about 14 million people in solutions; a few were able to deter rowdy youths and loiterers the United States relied on mass transit each workday. More by following simple steps such as re-arranging furnishings to recently, in 2009, estimates were that public transit accounted create fewer private, unobservable spaces within their waiting for more than 10.2 billion trips annually (Guerrero 2005, p. areas or by playing classical music, which seemed to discour- 5; Stelter April 5, 2010). age noisy teenagers from staying any longer than necessary. The complexity of providing security for passenger rail Solutions could be tailored to meet local needs because transit goes beyond the often-discussed need for transit transit agencies are local entities. In contrast to other coun- agencies to balance security with concerns about accessibil- tries but similar to most public services in the United States, ity, convenience, and affordability. The decision to use pub- transit providers are numerous and operate independently of lic transit in most parts of the United States is discretionary; one another. The number of systems throughout the coun- only in highly urbanized areas such as New York; Philadel- try has grown within the past two decades, primarily owing phia; Boston; Washington, DC; Chicago; San Francisco; and to city or regional governments deciding to wean residents Los Angeles are highway and street congestion sufficiently away from car-dependency and onto mass transit as part of dense and parking costs sufficiently high to discourage the their attempts at traffic management and air pollution con- use of personal automobiles by most commuters and by trol. These efforts have resulted in development of a number occasional patrons traveling to recreational or cultural activ- of new light rail transit systems (LRTs) throughout the coun- ities. Although this is changing in many areas, where the try but especially in parts of the west and the south. Today, travel time from home to work has begun to impact the use more than 6,000 agencies are responsible for bus, rail, ferry, of automobiles, in most parts of the nation rail transit agen- and other transit modes (Guerrero 2002, p. 5). cies continue to compete for riders with private automobiles. At a time of heightened concerns over safety and security, A number of factors affect transit usage. Although the driven in large measure by international terrorists who have cost of gasoline and concerns with pollution are factors some

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6 consider, this concern competes with riders' other percep- Not mentioned in the report but adding to the complex- tions. Many, for instance, are concerned with limited service ity are the widely varying methods of securing and policing during non peak periods. The consistency with which transit public transit. These methods are as different as the systems agencies in less densely populated areas offer some variation themselves. Methods range from virtually no staff assigned of an emergency ride home program indicates their recogni- solely to security to large, full-service police departments. tion of the concern by patrons that using mass transit rather Although many transit police agencies are concerned about than traveling in their private vehicles limits their freedom if publicizing the sizes of their staffs, this information is often their regular travel schedule is for some reason interrupted. available on their websites, in local news stories, or in tes- timony by chiefs before various local, state, and federal The conventional wisdom states that a controlled access oversight agencies. All figures in the synthesis for agency system in public transit even remotely similar to today's staffing and for funds obtained from various outside sources airport travel experience will discourage patronage. There are from published materials or were provided to the authors are also concerns about the costs of instituting such con- by the agencies. trols. The few experiments around the country that tested airport-like passenger and baggage checks were just that-- Among the largest full-service transit police agencies tests--which generally reinforced the incompatibility of are New YorkConnecticut's Metropolitan Transportation such systems with the culture and infrastructure of pub- Authority (MTA), with more than 600 officers, and the lic transit. A major finding of a lengthy study of passenger Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's (PANY&NJ) screening concluded that: "Screening 100 percent of urban police staff of more than 2,000 (most of which are not mass transit passengers is not a realistic security option" assigned to passenger rail but with specialized department and that "[t]he human resources required, added security resources available as needed). Transit police departments costs, and delays would destroy urban mass transit" (Jen- of this size are rare. Amtrak, the national passenger rail kins and Butterworth 2007, p. 5). Various combinations of agency, has about 500 police officers, while the New Jersey either selective or random baggage inspections and targeted Transit (NJT) police department, responsible for rail and bus but brief interviews of patrons add uncertainty and may transit throughout the state, has about 250. Others agencies, deter those with evil intentions. Although they provide a including those that responded to this survey, have about 200 measure of risk reduction to an agency and its patrons, they officers, although some, again including survey participants, are not realistic long-range solutions to safeguarding open are considerably smaller, including agencies selected as case systems with multiple access points. Technological and sci- study participants. entific advances may at some time in the future alter this determination. But because transit systems need to develop A number of agencies contract with local police or county risk reduction and security solutions that are more immedi- sheriffs' offices to provide patrol services and sometimes also ately available, electronic video surveillance systems have investigations of past crimes. The amount of control the tran- become the preferred technology. sit agency has over these officers differs depending on the actual wording of their contracts with the police agencies or No one likes to mention dollar values when lives may be with local custom. Generally in these arrangements the tran- at stake. Amid all the discussions of safeguarding surface sit agency receives specialized services in addition to patrol, transportation systems, one government survey of ten large such as emergency response to accidents or incidents, and use transit agencies noted that their top three safety and secu- of, for instance, evidence or bomb technicians as needed. rity funding priorities were communication systems, video surveillance equipment, and additional training. Based on Other agencies employ no or very few persons with estimates developed by eight of the ten, the cost of those police authority but either employ or contract for security improved measures for just those eight systems totaled $711 personnel who work solely for that transit agency. In some million (Guerrero 2002, pp. 910). The total for all agencies jurisdictions these security officers may be armed, in oth- would be in the billions of dollars. ers they do not carry firearms. Again depending on agency needs or local licensing regulations, these security offi- The logistics of instituting such controls are equally over- cers may have some level of police authority or they may whelming. The sheer number of independent transit systems be authorized solely to act as "eyes and ears," calling for makes any form of centralized control, even by the federal local police as needed. One case study agency, the Altamont government, unlikely. As aptly pointed out by a report pre- Commuter Express (ACE) in California, has no dedicated pared by White House staff, "surface transportation modes police or security officers of its own. It relies on the local differ significantly based on size, location, ownership, police departments whose jurisdictions it travels through, capacity measures, and redundancy of operations," lead- the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) on whose tracks it trav- ing to challenges in prioritizing assets and systems (Surface els, and the Amtrak police, with which it shares several sta- Transportation Security Priority Assessment 2010, p. 15). tions, for its law enforcement.