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Beefing up rail security on the PATH train

(The following report by Anthony Johnson was posted on New York television station WABC’s website on January 25.)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Airport-like security will be set up next month at the Exchange Place PATH station in Jersey City. It's the first phase of a federal test program designed to beef up rail safety across the country.

New Jersey reporter Anthony Johnson has details he joins us live from Exchange Place.
The good news here is that you won't have to take off your shoes or belts or empty your pockets, but some 15,000 passengers use this facility daily, so they're worried about a hectic commuter. Officials running this new security program tell us that it will only add about one minute to your commute.

Anyone going through the turnstiles at the PATH station will be suject to x-ray machiens for their bags and metal detectors. It will be similar to the security measures we've already seen at the airport since 9/11.

Gary Liotta, PATH Passenger: "I realize it's an inconvenience but a few extra minutes to keep everybody safe, I think is well worth it."

This test program is being installed so officials can gather data about security screening methods. The information will help in the research and development of technology that can check for explosives from a distance and will incorporate infared and video surveillance.

The Department of Homeland Security is trying to look for ways to improve railroad security, which became a major concern following the terror attacks in Madrid, Spain in 2004 and the July 7th, 2005 bombings in London that targeted mass transit.

But not every PATH train rider in Jersey City is ready to go under the security microscope.

Tim Nielsen, PATH Passenger: "The reason why people use mass transit is to get around quickly and I'm going to start having to budget 15 to 20 minutes to go use the train?"

The screeners at Exchange Place will come from San Francisco International Airport, on loan from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

In a passenger sets off an alarm, they will the subjected to swipes for explosive residue and searched with hand-held wands.

Jayson Henderson, PATH Passenger: "All they're trying to do is make sure they're making safe grounds for everyone to come through here but in the meantime make it a very fast process so that people aren't held up or late for work."

This test program will begin on February 6th and run through March 1st. Officials will be coming here next week to show us some of the devices that will be used at the PATH station. But this is probably a precursor to some of the security measures we'll see at rail stations across the country in the future.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

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