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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 10:41 AM ET, 05/02/2011

Transit agencies increase security after bin Laden killing

Amtrak, Metro, Virginia Railway Express and the Maryland Transit Adminstration all planned to increase security on their transportation networks as a precaution following the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces.

“This is not in relation to any specific threat, but out of an abundance of caution,” said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. “Customers will see an increase in uniformed officers in the system,” she said, adding that other security measures less visible to the public are also in place.

On an Orange Line train leaving New Carrollton Monday, the operator followed a cheery, “Good morning! Good morning,” with a reminder for riders to report anything suspicious via intercom or by calling Metro Transit Police.

Inside Pentagon City and Pentagon Metro stations, the morning commute went on as usual.

Tourists aboard the Blue Line asked for directions on getting to the Orange Line. Babies wailed as the trains sailed under the Potomac. Riders were still glued to their phones and their newspapers, scarcely looking up or monitoring their surroundings. It was, for all intents and purposes, like any other Monday for these commuters.

An increased security presence wasn’t readily apparent during Bryce Goodwin’s commute on Monday morning. He didn’t see any added police presence during his trip from Crystal City to McPherson Square. But he wasn’t that worried while heading to work at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“With an event like this, maybe there is the threat of reprisal. But an event like this made me more optimistic,” said Goodwin, 29, who is also a graduate student studying public policy at George Washington University. “Whether that’s naive or not, I wasn’t more afraid” to travel, he said.

Metro planned to discuss its efforts to increase security during a press conference Monday afternoon with Police Chief Michael Taborn.

The Maryland Transit Administration also increased its watchfulness, said MTA spokesman John Milton Wesley.

"There will be vigilance on the part of all of our officers in light of what took place overnight," Wesley said. "There may be some visible signs of changes and others not as visible.  For example, there might be more uniformed patrols and more undercover patrols," he said.

The MTA operates several lines, including MARC trains, Commuter Buses and a light rail system.

VRE Spokesman Mark Roeber said the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to be more vigilant in their platform checks. The 130 undercover officers that ride VRE trains daily have also been asked to be more aware of what is going on around them on the trains.

VRE officials have contacted all the local jurisdictions that partner with the commuter rail service and they have agreed to have local law enforcement officials increase their patrols of platforms and parking garages.  

“We believe the diligence that we’ve displayed and continue to display acts as a deterrent and we are confident that with the assistance from our partners, VRE will remain a safe haven for commuting,” Roeber said.

Amtrak has raised its state of alert by ensuring it is fully staffed with police teams that use bomb-sniffing dogs and other security specialists, said Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm.

“Our commanders are in close communication with our federal partners in the intelligence community as well as local law enforcement agencies in the areas we travel through,” Kulm said. “In addition, we are ensuring full staffing of our K9 teams including our specially trained vapor wake teams at our major hubs.”

Staff writer Jennifer Buske contributed to this report

By and  |  10:41 AM ET, 05/02/2011

Categories:  Metro

 
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