We must also ensure that workers are free to report security concerns without facing retaliation or harassment from their employer. This has been an unfortunate reality in the rail sector for far too long and enhanced whistleblower protections for all employees must be included in any legislation as well. It defies common sense and threatens our homeland security to expect front-line workers to be more vigilant while failing to provide them the strongest protections from employer harassment and intimidation.
Rail and mass transit security have also been grossly under-funded. According to a report issued last year by the House Homeland Security Committee, $9 per airline passenger has been spent on security compared with only one penny per passenger for rail and mass transit. By way of example, millions are needed to upgrade passenger rail tunnels along the Northeast corridor, security cameras are non-existent in too many stations, and biological and chemical detection systems are expensive technologies that cannot be solely adsorbed by local public authorities. During the heightened state of national alert instituted after the London attacks, U.S. transit systems spent an estimated $900,000 per day from July 7 to August 12, 2005. Overtime costs for security and other personnel continue to rise and place significant burdens on these systems. Clearly, Amtrak and public transit agencies are in dire need of additional and consistent security funding from Washington and any bill must at least make a down payment on the billions in capital and operational needs identified by the industry.
We are pleased that Congress does appear ready to address these needs and to pass comprehensive rail and mass transit security legislation. Last month the Senate Commerce Committee passed its rail security bill and the Senate Banking Committee approved its transit security bill. Both measures have been incorporated in the 9/11 Commission bill under consideration in the Senate. And last week, the House Homeland Security Transportation Subcommittee approved its rail and transit bill. Separately, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders, including Chairman Jim Oberstar, Reps. Corrine Brown and Peter DeFazio, introduced the Rail and Public Transit Security Act with hearings starting next week. We hope that leaders from both parties will work to make sure these bills are approved quickly. We also call on the Administration to support these important legislative initiatives.
Mass transit and rail security are simply too important to treat as the ugly stepchild in our homeland security regime any longer. Congress must step in now to close vulnerabilities, ensure workers are being trained, and make it a priority to protect the millions who rely on mass transit and rail everyday from terrorist threats.
Policy Statement No. W07-03
Adopted March 4, 2007