In the wake of the foiled terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train last week, two Democratic senators are calling on the Transportation Security Administration to deal with potential threats to the nation’s rail system.
“Tens of millions of riders use our country’s public transportation and passenger rail systems every day, and these networks serve as the backbone of economic activity throughout the country,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) wrote in a letter this week to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger.
“Our rail and transit networks carry significantly more people per day than our airlines do. Penn Station in New York City, for example, handles half a million passengers each day – making it busier than all three New York City regional airports combined, and the busiest transportation hub in our country. While aviation security is a vital focus of the TSA, your agency also has a critical role to play in protecting rail and transit passengers,” they continued.
The pair’s request came in response to last week’s attempted terrorist attack on a train in Europe in which three Americans helped stop a gunman.
“The swift action of these men averted a catastrophe that could have claimed many lives,” Booker and Blumenthal wrote. “This close call requires that we consider the vulnerabilities this incident – and several other high-profile attacks on rail and transit elsewhere globally – expose for our rail and transit passengers. This is why we ask for action on long overdue requirements placed on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) by Congress.”
According to the Democratic lawmakers, in 2007 Congress passed the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act which required the TSA to carry out additional measures on America’s rail system.
Specifically, they write, the TSA was supposed to offer a plan for public transportation and rail employee background and immigration checks, approved security plans for vulnerable railroads, and offer security training regulations for the nation’s public transportation, railroad, and bus providers.
Those requirements, they argue, were never completed.
“As of August 2015 – over seven years since the last deadline – we still do not have final action on these requirements. These are urgent priorities and completion of these mandates will further prepare us for emerging threats on the horizon,” Blumenthal and Booker write, calling on the agency head to see that the recommendations are carried out.