Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) Monday led 84 other House Members in a bipartisan call for strong funding of safety and security in America’s mass transit systems.
The Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) could suffer deep cuts under President Trump’s initial budget blueprint.
“We must not let our guard down, and Americans must not have to fear riding the rails or boarding buses,” said Swalwell, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “Americans made more than 10.6 billion mass-transit trips in 2015, and those systems’ open nature makes them especially vulnerable – a fact not lost on terrorists in Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, and Brussels in 2016. We must maintain robust, separate funding for these systems’ security.”
The TSGP is a competitive grant program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with funds going to the owners and operators of transit systems to secure their infrastructure and otherwise protect against terrorist attacks. Examples of possible uses for TSGP awards include surveillance training, public awareness campaigns, detection equipment, security cameras, and the hardening of infrastructure. The San Francisco Bay Area’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system received $4.79 million from the TSGP in Fiscal Year 2016.
In a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Swalwell and the other members noted an attack on American mass transit could kill thousands and cripple major metropolitan areas.
The Members of Congress also noted they oppose consolidating TSGP into some larger, multipurpose homeland security grant program as has been proposed in the past, lest transit security not be properly funded.
“We understand that the current budget climate makes funding choices difficult,” they wrote. “However, we request that you keep in mind the consequences of failing to commit sufficient resources to protect mass transit systems used daily by millions of Americans.”
Article: The Independent