The new report, “DHS Grants Used for Mitigating Risks to Amtrak Rail Stations” from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General is a reminder of our rail system’s vulnerability to attack. While the report criticizes DHS’s oversight of rail security spending, the more important issue is that our rail and mass transportation systems continue to remain vulnerable.

Terrorists (Al Qaeda and others) have focused on rail attacks at a much higher rate than attacks on airlines. Yet, spending for aviation security far outpaces that for mass transit security. The United States has had numerous plots and unsuccessful attempts on our mass transit systems, and we are lucky to have avoided tragedy thus far. The rest of the world hasn’t been as lucky: Madrid in 2004 (191 dead/ 1800 injured); London in 2005 (52 dead/ 700 injured); Mumbai in 2006 (209 dead/ 700 injured); and Moscow in 2010 (40 dead/ 100 injured).

What’s less known is that globally, there are about 90 terrorist attacks per month on surface transport, with a third of those targets being trains. According to the Mineta Transportation Institute, since 9/11, over 1,700 attacks on trains/subways/buses have killed over 3,700 people.

As of 2007, 9 billion trips were made per year using all forms of public transportation; that’s 32 million trips per workday, more than 16 times the number of air travellers. Yet, for every $50 TSA spends on airline security, only $1 is spent on surface transport security. Though there has been a 24 percent increase in the TSA budget allocation to surface transport vulnerability to patch it up quickly, it doesn’t come close to addressing the vulnerabilities. In these troubled budget times, particularly in light of the recent debt ceiling crisis and the commitment to cut expenditures, it is difficult to advocate an increase in spending. However, shifting priorities and reallocating resources isn’t an answer either, because we are a long way from addressing the security needs of all the nation’s critical infrastructure. In short, Congress needs to keep focused on our domestic security and invest more resources into protecting the American homeland and our mass transit systems, which are vital to the economic stability of this country.

  • Frankieo

    Where is Ted Alves and the Amtrak OIG why didn’t they discover this mess and report it because they are in bed with Boardman and Carper!!!!!!investigate the Amtrak OIG and why they were sleeping!!!!!!!

    • Watson

      Yeah what about the Amtrak OIG where were they on this issue


        who is ted alves

  • Tommyboy

    When Weiderhold was there this would not have happened they fired Ronney and Weiderhold and then spent the money they got for Amtrak on nothing muffin projects instead of protecting the USA Rail.  Wow someone should investigate the Amtrak IG Ted Alves for being asleep at the wheel.

    • Billm

      who is ted alves

  • What kind of security are we talking about? If it’s screening and pat downs, you’re going to decimate what little rail ridership there is.

  • Steve

    Yes, by all means, let’s have more Security Theater.  Let’s spend more millions and billions on inconveniencing passengers and hassling innocent brown people in the name of “security.”

    Shorter Liscouski: send me more of your taxpayer dollars.

  • Tommyboy

    ted alves is the amtrak inspector general

  • Tommyboy

    ted alves is the spinless fraction of a man afraid of losing his retired tit job

  • Tommyboy

    this is who ted alves is:
    Amtrak’s Inspector General

    Theodore (Ted) AlvesTheodore (Ted) Alves was appointed Amtrak’s Inspector General in November 2009. Mr. Alves was the Deputy Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) when he retired in January 2009 after 35 years of Federal service. DOT is the federal agency responsible for achieving a safe, efficient, and effective transportation system that enhances the quality of life of the American people. As the Deputy Inspector General, Mr. Alves was responsible for providing executive level leadership and direction of all Office of Inspector General (OIG) audits and investigations as well as overseeing operational support activities such as human resource, information technology, accounting and budgeting, and procurement activities for the OIG.He served the DOT OIG for over eight years in several executive positions, including Principal Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations, Assistant Inspector General for Financial and Information Technology Audits, and Assistant Inspector General for Surface Infrastructure Audits.Before joining DOT, Mr. Alves led the Financial Management Audits Branch at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He was responsible for overseeing financial statement, financial management, and information technology audits. Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. Alves spent 4 years as the Director of Information Technology and Special Audits at the U.S. Agency for International Development and 22 years with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Mr. Alves was born in Medford, Massachusetts and has a bachelor’s degree in Management from Northeastern University, in Boston. He is a Certified Inspector General and a Certified Government Financial Manager. He is also a member of the Association of Inspectors’ General, the Association of Government Accountants, and the Institute of Internal Auditors.