New York's MTA Seeks to Improve Emergency Training

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York City's transit system and two commuter railroads, will spend $1.4 million to improve employee response to terrorist attacks and other emergencies.

The state authority plans to hire the National Transit Institute of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and SAIC Inc. (SAI)'s EAI unit to conduct security and emergency response training workshops for more than 25,000 employees over the next three years, according to authority documents.

The decision to hire the firms was made after a 2006 study by Kroll International, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos., that found `` weak areas'' in training, authority spokesman Jeremy Soffin said. The study was commissioned in response to concerns that the MTA's 66,000 workers hadn't received adequate training after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Soffin said.

``We have now worked for a year to correct all the deficiencies cited in the Kroll report and are now ready to begin a different training regimen with professional security instructors, a more defined curriculum and a method of evaluation,'' Soffin said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News.

In March, the MTA said Transportation Security Administration agents and state and local police would patrol the Long Island and Metro-North railroads, the two busiest U.S. commuter rail lines. It's the first time the administration has sent personnel to patrol train systems regularly.

Most Likely Target

The New York City Transit division, which runs the largest U.S. public transportation system, is also working to improve its emergency response capability.

New York City Transit plans to award a $400,000 contract to closely held Intergraph Corp. (INGR) of Huntsville, Alabama, to develop a comprehensive map of the subway system for use by emergency responders. The agency also intends to pay $421,900 to closely held Bickford Vehicles of Chantilly, Virginia, for a van that can provide communications support during terrorist attacks, blackouts, storms and other emergencies.

New York's transit system is the most likely target of a terrorist attack in the region, with about 6.57 million daily train riders and more than 2.4 million bus passengers, Richard A. Falkenrath, New York City Police Department's deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, told the U.S. House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee in March.

Congress has been paying closer attention to transit security since train bombings in Madrid in 2004 and the 2005 London bus and subway attacks, and its new Democratic leaders have put rail security high on their agenda.

The MTA and other mass transit agencies would be required to get federal approval for their anti-terrorism measures under a proposal passed by the U.S. House. The Rail and Public Security Act of 2007 is currently under review by a Senate committee.

All three plans are likely to be adopted by the authority's board of commissioners at its regular monthly meeting in Manhattan tomorrow.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at dolmetsch@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: JoAnne Norton at jnorton@bloomberg.net.

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