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Holt gets transit security aid

(The following article by Robert Stern was posted on the Times of Trenton website on October 5.)

TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey stands to gain a $1 million boost in federal funding -- to about $6.5 million -- to shore up the security of its ground public transit systems and facilities as a result of a $25 million amendment to the national homeland security budget, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt said yesterday.

Holt (D-12th Dist.), the bipartisan amendment's prime sponsor, announced the anticipated extra infusion of federal dollars during a press briefing alongside state and Mercer County officials at NJ Transit's Trenton train station yesterday, the day President Bush signed this fiscal year's $33.8 billion Homeland Security Appropriations Act, including the $25 million amendment for ground public transit se curity.

Overall, the federal appropria tion for homeland security includes $175 million for rail and other ground transit security -- with about $6.5 million of that anticipated for New Jersey, according to Holt and state officials.

"The appropriateness of this funding cannot be underlined enough," said Richard L. CaŮas, di rector of New Jersey's Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. "We will put it to very good use here in New Jersey."

"A substantial portion" of New Jersey's share will support research and development of surveillance equipment that could better protect trains, buses and mass-transit stations from attacks using radiological, chemical, biological or explosive devices, said NJ Transit Executive Director George Warring ton.

In addition, the money will help fund expanded closed-circuit sur veillance video monitoring of the public transit system in New Jersey, Warrington said.

It also likely will help efforts to streamline emergency communica tion systems across various agencies, such as NJ Transit and transit and emergency agencies in New York City, said Joseph Bober, NJ Transit's police chief.

The additional $25 million nationally that the Holt-sponsored amendment secured "will, we be lieve, make a real difference in the security of passengers throughout the state and ... it will benefit the entire country," Holt said.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes joined Holt and others in saying that expanded funding for transit security is important, especially in a state such as New Jersey, where the public relies heavily on rail and bus transportation.

Holt said much more government resources should be invested in future years in ground transit se curity.

He noted Congress has appropriated nearly $30 billion for aviation security since Sept. 11, 2001, almost 50 times as much as the approximately $620 million designated for ground transit security in that time.

Friday, October 6, 2006

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