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MTA asks TSA for more money

(The following article by Pete Donohue was posted on the New York Daily News website on March 6.)

NEW YORK -- The MTA has rejected the feds’ offer to provide government screeners to inspect railroad riders for explosives - and wants more money instead.

The Transportation Security Administration approached the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in January about using federal screeners on Metro-North lines leading to Grand Central.

But the MTA Police Department, which has a large K-9 unit, already does random bag checks on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road. The MTA told the feds ‘no thanks’ last week.

“The biggest obstacle to increasing security on transit networks ... is a lack of federal funding,” an MTA statement said. “While Washington spends $7.50 per commercial air passenger, only $.015 (one and one-half cents) is spent to protect each of the nation’s mass transit riders.”

One MTA official said the TSA proposal seemed to be a public relations move to draw attention away from its critics.

“The feds came in fishing for some work because they’re getting killed in Washington over the fact that mass transit is the most vulnerable and is getting no money,” an MTA official said. “They offered help that wasn’t needed. What we need is money.”

The MTA turned down the feds’ offer of bomb-sniffing dogs in 2005 because authority officials decided their in-house canine training program was better.

In releasing its statement, the MTA also sought to counter a New York Post “exclusive” claiming the MTA and TSA were working out a joint bag-check program.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

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