U.S. Transit Systems on Code Orange

Passengers View Security Warning
Security warnings loom as passengers leave the platform at Union Station in Washington. (Hunter Wilson for washingtonpost.com)
By Daniela Deane and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 7, 2005; 5:12 PM

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised the terror threat level to code orange for public transit systems around the country following multiple explosions on London's transportation system early today, but left the national threat level unchanged, U.S. Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff said.

Chertoff said the threat level was raised from "elevated" to "high" for regional and inter-city passenger rail, subways and metropolitan bus systems.

"We are not suggesting that people avoid public transportation systems," he said. "Rather we are asking that they use the systems but with an increased awareness of their surroundings."

Chertoff said that U.S. authorities had "no specific credible evidence" pointing to an attack in the United States, but he said officials were "concerned about the possibility of a copycat attack."

"I think our transit systems are safe," Chertoff said at Washington news conference. He said there have been vast improvements since terrorists struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. But he said the department was still "asking for increased vigilance" in the mass transit system.

D.C. police moved quickly to a higher alert level for the morning rush hour in Washington, dispatching officers armed with machine guns and bomb-sniffing dogs to patrol subway and bus stations in the nation's capital and activating the city's network of surveillance cameras .

New York police reinforced security on the city's transit system and Amtrak increased security on the country's passenger railroad system. Several other cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston, also announced stepped-up security measures in their metropolitan areas.

In Washington, D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey said patrols were increased at foreign embassies, especially those of nations participating in the G-8 summit or part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

At an afternoon news briefing, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) urged people to remain vigilant but to go ahead with their daily activities.

"Our city is open and safe," Williams said.

In an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors, Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) said the state had increased police protection in northern Virginia and around critical facilities such as bridges and tunnels.

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) told a morning news conference that the state has increased security at its airports, bridges, tunnels, roadways and around the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways.

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