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Schumer criticizes LIRR security

(Newsday posted the following article by Andrew Strickler on its website on August 25.)

NEW YORK -- Adding to several recent calls for increased train safety on the Long Island Rail Road, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized the LIRR Thursday for not installing closed-circuit cameras, bomb-resistant garbage cans, or making other "no-brainer" security improvements at most stations.

Schumer's remarks, made on a train platform in Syosset, were based on the results of a survey he said his office conducted of 30 LIRR stations in Suffolk and Nassau counties in July and August. The survey looked at LIRR adherence to 2004 Department of Homeland Security recommendations for safety improvements in the nation's mass transit systems.

According to the report, more than 90 percent of reviewed stations lacked security cameras, while 80 percent did not have special clear garbage cans meant to deter terrorists from planting bombs. The report also noted several other problems, including crumbling platforms and obscured emergency or exit signs.

"You should be able to turn at a moment's notice and know where you should go," Schumer said.

He said the federal government has contributed to the problem by not setting sufficient standards for the LIRR.

Schumer called on the LIRR to examine the system's infrastructure and do regular safety reviews. He has asked the National Transportation Safety Board to assist the LIRR in the review.

"Frankly, there has been a lot more progress in air security than in rail security," he said.

In a written response, Lewis Schiliro, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's director of inter-agency preparedness, said that since Sept. 11 the MTA has increased police and emergency staff in recent years and made other security improvements.

"We are ... in the process of implementing a robust security camera program ... that has already installed 284 cameras on the LIRR," Schiliro wrote. He also said the LIRR is working with companies to install bomb-resistant trash cans.

Friday, August 25, 2006

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