Swalwell Leads the Call for Strong Transit Security Funding

March 23, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) today led 66 House members in urging strong funding to help America’s mass transit agencies keep their riders safe and secure.

In a letter to the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, the members urged that the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) receive $105 million in fiscal year 2017 – a small increase from the current budget, and $20 million more than President Obama’s request. It also asks that this be kept as a distinctly funded program, not combined with other security preparedness grants.

“This week’s horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels – one of which targeted a busy subway station – underscore the pressing need to keep America’s bus, rail and ferry systems safe,” said Swalwell, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “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.”

There were 10.7 billion passenger trips on mass transit in 2014 in the United States, according to the American Public Transportation Association. The number of persons using these transportation systems, the ease with which people can enter and exit, and their locations in urban areas make them prime targets. Before Brussels, past terrorist attacks on mass transit systems include the high-profile and deadly explosions in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005.

TSGP, a competitive grant program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, lets eligible public transit agencies obtain funds to help them secure their operations in a variety of ways, from operational activities like surveillance to asset protection like tunnel hardening.

Some in the past have proposed combining multiple homeland security grant programs including TSGP into one larger preparedness grant. Doing so would risk diminishing funding for mass transit.

“We can’t cut corners on Americans’ safety, and the transit systems we use day in and day out deserve their own dedicated security funding,” Swalwell said.

Read the letter here.