BY MICHAEL MANVILLE
07.08.2005 11:08 | DISPATCHES
Although nothing can make a transit system completely safe, the US could certainly be doing much more than it does now. The Bush Administration has proposed about $115 million for transit security for the current year. That's pretty paltry, especially when you consider that we spend about $345 million a day in Iraq.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) argues that $6 billion would make the nation's public transportation systems significantly safer. This is, again, something of a drop in the bucket, particularly when you consider that over 16 times more people ride mass transit than fly airplanes. This does not mean that public needs more money than aviation security (which has recieved billions since 9/11). Because airports and airplanes are inherently easier to secure than buses and trains, we get more bang for our buck investing in aviation security than we do in protecting urban mass transit. We can never have a perfectly protected airport, but we can get pretty close to one. The cost-benefit of mass transit security investment is not nearly as favorable.
That said, we can do a lot more than we do now, and some of the reasons we hear for transit security funding getting delayed--i.e., the Department of Transportation and Department of Homeland Security bickering over who has the authority to disburse grants--are inexcusable. Didn't we learn after 9/11 that some things should be exempt from turf wars?