WASHINGTON, DC- Bipartisan transportation security legislation authored by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo/San Francisco) today passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote. The Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act, H.R. 3140, would enhance the security of mass transit systems by promoting mass transit-related information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local law enforcement agencies.

“One of the key lessons of 9/11 is that information sharing is at the core of terrorism prevention,” said Speier. “Improving security at vulnerable mass transit systems starts with getting timely, actionable intelligence to our state and local law enforcement partners so they can more effectively deploy their resources to deter or detect potential terrorist plots.

“Mass transit systems have consistently been targets for terrorists and have been the site of some of the most horrific acts of terror since 9/11. To date, the U.S. has been fortunate to have not experienced the death and destruction associated with a mass transit attack. But that is not to say that we have not had close calls.

“In September 2009, Najibullah Zazi was arrested in New York City for allegedly plotting to blow up New York City subways and in October 2010, the FBI arrested a man who was plotting a large-scale attack on the Washington, D.C. METRO system.

“More recently we learned from documents taken from the compound of Osama bin Laden-- following the successful Navy SEALs raid-- that Al Qaeda was plotting to attack U.S. mass transit systems to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

“Today we are a step closer to securing our mass transit systems. Although used by millions of Americans for their daily commute and weekend leisure, mass transit systems such as subways have relatively few security measures in place compared to air transportation,” said Speier.  

Speier’s legislation would help protect communities from terrorism and other threats by directing DHS to deploy intelligence specialists focusing on mass transit threats to state and urban area fusion centers for information sharing with law enforcement and emergency management agencies.

Such a partnership between DHS analysts and local law enforcement can enhance situational awareness with respect to the threat of terrorism to the millions of Americans who rely on mass transit systems, including the threat of an attack involving a weapon of mass destruction.