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Legislators push train security

(The following article by Rob Varnon was posted on the Connecticut post website on August 10.)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, visited Metro-North Railroad's Bridgeport station Tuesday to talk with police and commuters while calling for more funding to secure the nation's mass transit systems from attacks.

According to Shays' office, the nation has allocated $22.7 billion for aviation security since 2002, but only $478 million for transit security.

"We're spending a lot on aviation," Shays said during a telephone interview after the visit. "We need to spend more on subways, buses and trains."

Lieberman said America has been reacting to the terrorists instead of getting ahead of them.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the country poured billions into aviation security and is only now beginning to wake up to the threats against mass transit, Lieberman said.

"More people ride rail and mass transit than airplanes," Lieberman said.

The problem appears to be one of cost.

Lieberman proposed spending at least $1 billion a year to increase security for mass transit systems across the nation, but Congress has only been willing to spend $150 million a year.

"We have to find the money," Lieberman said, adding that the money is probably already there by way of existing allocations in the transportation bill and other sources.

But to get that money, Lieberman said, Congress will have to reprogram some funds and allow states to use transportation money for security projects.

Funding for transit took a small step forward this year, according to Shays and Lieberman.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

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