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M.T.A. and police discussing how to pay for terror security

(The following article by Sewell Chan was posted on the New York Times website on July 16.)

NEW YORK -- Increased police patrols on New York City subways and buses since the July 7 bombings in London have cost about $1.9 million a week, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Police Department are discussing how to pay for that expense, officials said yesterday.

The authority is likely to reimburse the police for the added patrols, and then seek reimbursement from the federal Department of Homeland Security, which raised the threat level for all mass transit agencies on the day of the London attacks.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who disclosed the talks during a weekly radio program, also criticized two developments in Washington that will probably affect the amount of money the city's transit system will receive to improve security.

On Thursday, the federal secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, defended the emphasis on spending to protect the aviation system against attacks, rather than on more security for mass transit. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said that a fully loaded airplane "has the capacity to kill 3,000 people," while "a bomb in a subway car may kill 30 people." Later that day, he told a Senate committee that improving rail security was a priority and that "a biological incident in the subway or a chemical incident in a subway, which could happen, would have the capability of killing many, many more people."

Despite that clarification, Mr. Bloomberg joined other officials, including Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York and Senator Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey, who have criticized Mr. Chertoff's remarks.

"Michael Chertoff's a very smart guy, but I couldn't disagree more," the mayor said on WABC-AM.

The mayor criticized the second development, a Senate vote to appropriate $100 million next year for transit security, $50 million less than in this year's budget. He also said the money should be concentrated in big cities, where it is needed most.

He was more circumspect when the discussion turned to the transportation authority, which has been criticized for spending only a tiny fraction of the $600 million it has budgeted for counterterrorism. Its chairman, Peter S. Kalikow, has said the money should be spent carefully on proven technologies.

"It's easy to go take a shot at Kalikow," Mr. Bloomberg said, adding that the chairman's perspective was valid. But he added: "I'm not here to defend them. They could do more. What they are doing with the N.Y.P.D. is a step in the right direction. Let me applaud them for that and urge them to keep going."

The chief police spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the department had "added hundreds of officers to its transit coverage since the London bombings, to include officers on each train during rush hours," a program he said would continue at least as long as the system was on high alert.

Monday, July 18, 2005

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