Tuesday, November 23, 2010

If Walker Doesn't Kill the Train, Could the TSA?

The next step in tightened security could be on U.S. public transportation, trains and boats.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says terrorists will continue to look for U.S. vulnerabilities, making tighter security standards necessary.

“[Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through,” Napolitano said in an interview that aired Monday night on "Charlie Rose."

“I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”

I'm really surprised it took this long for someone to raise the question of where the full body scan, or it's substitute the enhanced pat down, would show up next. I really don't think it takes a criminal mastermind to make the leap from attacking planes to attacking trains.

The thing about demand for plane rides is that there aren't that many good substitutes. So higher costs of plane trips, in the form of humiliating security protocols, may not do that much to deter passengers.

A train ride from Milwaukee to Madison, by comparison, has a very close substitute in a nation that is centered around automobiles.

If you think the economics of HSR is bad now, try to imagine the cash flow of an operation where ridership is depressed as people try to avoid what they believe to be overly intrusive security measures.

Posted via email from rhymeswithclown's posterous


John Foust said...

The problem is the magical thinking. You're not going to make the world safer by attempting to prevent what the terrorists did last time.

Anonymous said...

Nor are you going to make the world safer by assuming all American citizens are guilty until proven innocent, while a known terrorist with a bomb in his underwear is allowed to get on a plane. Something is rotten in the state of U.S.

While we argue about the logistics of a security system that does not make us more secure, we are kissing the 4th amendment - freedom from unreasonable search and seizure - goodbye. Police state anyone?