Langevin Works to Put Transit Funding on Track

Jul 13, 2005

(Warwick, R.I.)–Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today became a co-sponsor of the Secure Transit and Railroads across America and Investment in National Security Act of 2005. The legislation is designed to make the 30 million commuters who use public transportation and passenger rails safer by correcting the inadequacy of security funding that has plagued the transit sector.

The “Secure TRAINS Act,” introduced by Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and others, would create dedicated funding for rail and transit security, and once again require the Department of Homeland Security to submit a National Transportation Security Plan for the nation’s entire transportation system.

“Last week’s tragic bombings in London, as well as the earlier Madrid train bombing, clearly point to the continuing vulnerability of rail, subway and bus systems in many countries, including our own," said Langevin. “These events should serve as a wake-up call to Congress that we have to take transit security more seriously and devote the necessary funding to plugging security gaps. We have made great strides in improving aviation security, but many experts warn that 'softer' targets like mass transit are now more attractive to terrorists.”

Admiral James Loy, former Transportation Security Administration head, promised the National Transportation Security Plan would be completed by the end of 2003. Congress later ordered DHS to complete the report by April 1 of this year. It is still pending. The plan is intended to identify national transportation assets, set risk-based priorities for their protection, assign responsibilities and recommend appropriate funding levels.

The Secure TRAINS legislation would authorize $2.8 billion in public transportation security grant funding over the next three years, including $1.2 billion in FY 2006, to implement needed security enhancements. The bill would also establish "best practices" for passenger transportation systems.

Finally, the Secure TRAINS Act provides whistleblower protections for transit employees who identify problems in transit security. These are the same protections stockbrokers and accountants already receive when reporting corporate fraud.