The focus of transit security since 2001 has been, to varying degrees, in an all hazards context, with terrorism a central area of concern. Methods have been devised, tested, and fielded to (a) identify and rank critical assets and (b) assess threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences. In addition, primers have been written focused on physical security and on prioritizing capital investments to reduce risk, and workshops have been delivered to bring security and emergency management professionals together with transit professionals in a community. Today, transit systems may be perceived as unsafe because news media and social media often amplify rare incidents. Individual perception of one’s environment can also drive a conclusion that a transit system is not safe. Even the largest transit system cannot afford to provide police presence at all bus stops and on all vehicles.
According to the Federal Register notice posted 2/17/2011, “TSA developed the Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) to evaluate the status of security and emergency response programs on transit systems throughout the nation. Reflecting its risk-based prioritization, TSA primarily conducts BASE reviews on the top 100 transit systems in the country, as identified by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). TSA's Surface Transportation Security Inspectors (STSIs) conduct BASE reviews during site visits with security and operating officials of transit systems. The STSIs capture and document relevant information using a standardized electronic checklist. Advance coordination and planning ensures the efficiency of the assessment process. As part of this, transit systems may also obtain a checklist in advance from TSA and conduct self-assessments of their security readiness. All BASE reviews are done on a voluntary basis. While TSA has not set a limit on the number of BASE reviews to conduct, TSA estimates it will conduct approximately 100 BASE reviews on an annual basis and does not intend to conduct more than one BASE review per transit system in a single year.”
Going forward, transit systems with average weekday ridership below 60,000 rides might not regularly receive security assessments by “outside” experts. These small- and medium-sized systems have a variety of resources available, such as (a) the 17 Security Action Items recommended by FTA and TSA (which are referenced in the triennial review for FTA grantees under the Urbanized Area Formula Funding program (49 U.S.C. 5307)); (b) self-service Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) modules and workshops; (c) National Transit Institute (NTI) courses; (d) Transportation Safety Institute (TSI) courses; (e) APTA guidance; (f) AASHTO guidance; and (g) research results (including products of the Cooperative Research Programs) that have focused on their issues. Some of these small- and medium-sized systems have developed formal security programs over the last decade. Managers of small- and medium-sized transit systems considering enhancements to or establishment of formal security programs want to know: (1) Are my peers doing formal security needs assessments? (2) What practical security measures are in use? (3) What practical security measures are recommended? (4) How does one set a security budget? (5) How does one justify a security budget?
Research is needed to (a) identify current policing and security practices (including the methods used to decide whether—and which—security measures to use), (b) develop baseline options for security measures and methods (including a menu of proven security measures), and (c) identify potential enhancements to existing methods appropriate for small- and medium-sized transit systems.
The objectives of this research are to (1) identify current policing and security practices (including the methods used to decide whether—and which—security measures to use), (2) develop baseline options for security measures and methods (including a menu of proven security measures), and (3) identify potential enhancements to existing methods appropriate for small- and medium-sized transit systems.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The TCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.
Task 1. Review the literature potentially applicable to policing and security for small- and medium-sized transit systems. Particular attention should be paid to the guidance identified in Special Note E.
Task 2. Develop survey instruments and a sampling strategy for identifying (a) current policing and security measures and (b) planning and assessment methods used by small- and medium-sized transit systems. The survey should address (1) quality of life issues (including but not limited to graffiti, vandalism, disorderly passengers, and fare evasion); (2) policing and security staffing decision procedures; (3) how agencies attempt to manage perceptions of transit security; and (4) how and if crime data are reported to the public and/or the governing board of the transit system, including methods for reporting performance metrics (both crime rates statistics for the area and the system and program/budgetary data). Explain why the chosen systems were selected. Explain what information is to be gathered, such as decision trees and standard procedures.
Task 3. Conduct the survey in accordance with the approved Task 2 survey instruments and survey plan.
Task 4. Prepare an interim report reporting the Task 1 results, the Task 2 survey instrument and sampling strategy, and the raw survey results from Task 3, with a preliminary assessment of (a) how well the sampling has been executed, (b) whether the data are complete, (c) whether the data are sufficient for the Task 5 analysis, and (d) whether there are gaps in the data and if it is possible to fill them.
Task 5. Analyze the results of the survey. Identify where security is addressed proactively and provide insight into why it is proactive in those areas (e.g., carryover of reaction to recent, local events; responsive to triennial review comments; “champion” on board or staff).
Task 6. Prepare a final report documenting the entire research effort. The report will (a) identify current policing and security practices (including the methods used to decide whether—and which—security measures to use and a discussion of the pros and cons of various staffing approaches for policing and security); (b) provide baseline options for security measures and methods, including a menu of proven security measures (baseline options must be in a format suitable for use by relevant standards development organizations, including APTA and AASHTO); (c) identify potential enhancements to existing methods appropriate for small- and medium-sized transit systems; and ( d) identify potential follow-on research to develop enhanced methods or tools for small- and medium-sized transit system security planning. In addition, prepare as separate deliverables for use by transit systems, an updated PowerPoint presentation, a stand-alone executive summary of the project, and potential baseline and enhanced security measures and methods.
Status: Completed. An interim report was received in June 2013. An interim meeting was held in August 2013. A draft final report was received in September 2014. A revised final report was received in November 2014. Published as TCRP Report 180.