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MBTA: Riders can help clean up terrorism

(The following article by Robin Washington appeared on the Boston Herald website on March 16.)

BOSTON -- Walking a few extra steps to throw away a candy wrapper and other small acts by train riders may be some of the most effective terrorism deterrents, local and national rail officials said yesterday.

The appeal to riders to change their behavior slightly and act as extra eyes and ears to security personnel comes in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks on commuter rail trains in Madrid, Spain, that left 200 dead.

"These bombs were left in places and carefully stowed away 35 minutes before the explosions took place, which is all the more reason we should be paying more attention to unattended items," MBTA General Manager Michael Mulhern said.

The new reality means putting up with fewer trash cans in commuter rail cars - many of which are being removed this week - and at outdoor station platforms, where receptacles have been moved to less crowded areas.

"If you have a candy wrapper, please walk to the end of the platform to throw it away," Mulhern said, acknowledging the relocation of the cans may at first seem counterintuitive toward cleanliness.

A T brochure further emphasizes what riders can do, from identifying suspicious persons to refraining from using cellphones near potentially explosive devices.

Amtrak spokesman Dan Stessel said intercity rail passengers also are being urged to put their antennae up, though he said it may be difficult to determine some suspicious acts, especially on trips lasting hours.

"It can be challenging to identify unattended bags. How would you know if your seatmate has gone to the cafe car or left the train?" he said. "We trust our passengers can use their instincts to distinguish it."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

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