The Democratic staff of the House Homeland Security Committee released a report yesterday entitled “Detour Ahead: Critical Vulnerabilities in America’s Rail and Mass Transit Security Programs.” The report provides a solid overview of this issue, looking at the history of threats to rail and mass transit systems, chronicling was DHS has done to address these threats, and putting forward a set of immediate recommendations for how to improve security in these critical systems.
The report acknowledges that security in rail and mass transit systems is inherently difficult, given the open nature of these systems, in comparison with “closed systems” such as the commercial aviation sector. It does not recommend measures that would harm the efficiency of these systems. But it makes a strong case that much more can be done to improve security, by focusing on clarifying jurisdictional issues among competing agencies, investing in security training for rail and mass transit workforces, and setting a clear agenda for next-generation technologies that could improve the security of the sector.
Overall, a solid and balanced report, and one which DHS should take seriously.