Back to School a Time to Recall Security

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No mention of school transportation is made in an article in the Aug. 9 issue of Parade magazine discussed a way of life many commuters know all too well: mass transit as a terror target. Still, mass transit has recieved $400 million last year to use on security initiatives, a figure the American Public Transportation Association points out is less than 2 percent of the money spent on airline security since 9/11.

Meanwhile, school transportation has received about $7 million in federal funds over the past five or six years total, and most of that money has gone to clean diesel initiatives, according to American School Bus Council members this week, this despite boasting about 10 billion individual students rides each school year, about the same number of riders that APTA says utilize mass transit annually.

Still, as schools start up again, safety and security is a common theme in newspaper articles and TV news segments around the country. But few will talk about terrorism. True, there has yet to be a catastrophic incident involving mass transit or school buses in this country, but the Transportation Security Administration reported 171 mass-transit incidents worldwide in 2007. Public transportation in general remains a soft target for terrorists, yet the funding pales in comparison to what airlines have received since 9/11, about $20 trillion.

Hopefully it won’t take another 9/11 to change things.

Update: Yesterday, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $1.2 billion in additional federal stimulus grants to transit that will in part address increased security. There has been no such funds for school transportation. The only stimulus money schools have been eligible for regarding transportation services was $156 million earlier this year tied to the National Clean Diesel Campaign.