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US transit security increased over Moscow blast

(The Associated Press circulated the following story by Megan K. Scott on March 29, 2010.)

NEW YORK — Major transit agencies beefed up security as a precaution Monday following the suicide bombing in Moscow's subway system.

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority had a "heightened security presence," said spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

He declined further comment. The agency is in charge of New York City buses and subways, as well as suburban trains, and bridges and tunnels.

In Washington, D.C., Metro police were conducting random inspections of stations and rail yards. Metro Transit Police's acting head, Jeri Lee, said Monday that the agency was doing "what we can to be as secure as possible."

Russian authorities said two women blew themselves up in Moscow on Monday in a subway jam-packed with rush-hour passengers, killing dozens. They blamed the carnage on rebels from the Caucasus region.

Representatives of transit agencies in Boston and Philadelphia said they believed their normal security practices were vigilant enough to protect the riding public.

The federal government did not immediately make any recommendations for increased security at mass transit systems, but authorities were monitoring the situation, a U.S. official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Caucasus Islamic separatists tend to be focused on targets in the region, primarily Russia, and are not generally considered a threat to U.S. domestic interests.

The New York Police Department issued a statement saying it was increasing coverage of the subway system as a precaution "in response to the Moscow bombings." Caravans of police vehicles were dispatched to transit hubs, and officers assigned to subways overnight were held in place so they overlapped with the day tour.

"That significantly bolstered police coverage at rush hour this morning," said spokesman Paul Browne.

Special units distinguished by their special black uniforms, helmets and body armor also were assigned to transit facilities.

In Manhattan, where the public has grown accustomed to increased security after the World Trade Center attack, many people said they hadn't even noticed the added measures.

"I don't think it poses a threat here now," said Carlos Rivera, 44, of Newark, N.J., who commutes to New York City daily and works in sales.

"Every day, I see the NYPD out here. I see the dogs. I can't let it affect my life right now," said Rivera. "I don't think about terrorism. I only think about it when I hear about it. Other than that, it never enters my mind."

Andrew Davis, 24, who was catching a train home to Morristown, N.J., said he feels safe and didn't notice any increased security.

John Villegas, who said he used to work near the World Trade Center, did sense the heightened security.

"I'm a little wary," Villegas, 48, said at Pennsylvania Station as he waited for a train home to Woodbridge, N.J. "I do not feel safe right now. It's a little scary."

Chris Edwards, 18, was heading back to Princeton University, where he's a freshman.

"I feel like security here is good enough," Edwards said. "I feel like, in general, any major terrorist attack is going to be more a misstep — the government not doing its job."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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