U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and more than 60 other members of Congress are requesting an increase in federal funding to help transit agencies beef up security measures against terrorist attacks and plan for other emergencies.
The representatives asked that the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) be increased to $105 million in the fiscal-year 2017 Department of Homeland Security authorization bill, a "small" increase from the current budget and $20 million more than President Barack Obama's request, according to a press release issued by Swalwell's office.
In a letter to U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), who chairs the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, the representatives also asked that the funding be kept as a distinctly funded program, not combined with other security preparedness grants.
Last week's terrorist attacks in Brussels, one of which targeted a subway station, "underscore the pressing need to keep America's bus, rail and ferry systems safe,” said Swalwell in a press release.
“From BART to Metro and everywhere in between, funds spent now to protect mass transit from terrorists could save a much larger future cost in terms of lives, physical damage, and economic harm," Swalwell said.
The letter cites American Public Transportation Association in noting that public transportation systems logged a combined 10.7 billion passenger trips in 2014.
"The special challenges in security mass transit systems and the potential disaster that could occur from an attack mean we have to be extra cognizant of providing the necessary resources for this transportation sector," according to the letter. "One way the federal government addresses this serious security threat is through TSGP."
TSGP is a competitive grant administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with funds going to transit system owners and operators. Possible uses of TSGP awards include surveillance training, public awareness campaigns, detection equipment, security cameras and the hardening of infrastructure.