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Old December 28th, 2009, 02:08 AM   #21
Martin S
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
@Martin S: I understand your reasoning (we secure PT, they will move to blast schools - or whatever), but I don't agree with it. There is no excuse to leave some places more vulnerable so wannabe terrorists will not choose others. If transit can be made safer, it should be made safer, regardless of the impacts of it on terrorist activities.
Suburbanist,

I don't disagree that if transit can be made safer it should be. In fact, I wrote something very similar to that except that I used the condition 'reasonably practicable' - a phrase that anyone who is familiar with UK health and safety law should know off by heart.

The problem with public transport is that it has so many access points and is used by so many people that it would be entirely impractical to have manned scanners at every bus stop or railway station. Then, you would also have to secure the route in some way to ensure that terrorists didn't plant a bomb on the track or blow up bridge supports.

Public transport safety is far better addressed by use of intelligence and the vigilance of staff and members of the public.

Perhaps the situation will change as technology advances but, at the present time, to install enough scanning equipment to be in any way effective in securing public transport would be ridiculously expensive and would almost certainly result in an increase in injuries and fatalities as people were driven on to far less safe alternatives.

Were you can though, it makes sense to install scanners - for example on the Eurostar services from London to Paris and Brussels. That though is a very different situation from the commuter trains that were the targets of the Madrid and London bombings. That is because there are relatively few access points and the prestige service is a more likely target for terrorists.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 07:25 AM   #22
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What about a mandate, for instance, that any trains carrying passenger for more than 150km to be required to board/unboard passengers in dedicated platforms where everyond is scanned? It would force the creation of a segregated network of stations approved to handle these routes.

I agree that intelligence is essential, though.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 07:59 AM   #23
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there is less of an incentive for terrorists. Hijacking a bus may enable you to crash into a car or building and leave a big mark but it wont cause any serious damage. Hijacking a train, why bother? safety systems make it difficult to deliberately crash them and control centers would most likely notice something wrong. Metros are more popular because you have a lot of people in a small space, but stadiums, theaters, convention centers, town squares etc. all have the same logistics. The only way to truly protect all dense areas would be to declare martial law. Planes are more popular because destruction would guarantee several hundred deaths and a hijacked plane can be used to take down buildings such as what happened during 9/11. Fortunately using mass transit is safer because it is not as viable a target for terrorists and their sickening ideals. Their targeting of crowded areas is one reason why the london bombings happened and the fact that it happened in a tube station may just lead people to think that all metro systems are a target, not realizing that they most likely wanted to target a very dense area.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 02:55 PM   #24
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What about a mandate, for instance, that any trains carrying passenger for more than 150km to be required to board/unboard passengers in dedicated platforms where everyond is scanned? It would force the creation of a segregated network of stations approved to handle these routes.
I think that this comes down to the issue of reasonable practicability. In the case of Eurostar, which was designed and built in an era of high security awareness (mainly due to IRA activity), it was fairly simple to provide security screening at the relatively few access points. Eurostar is also a high profile international service running through the Channel Tunnel and, as such, an important terrorist target.

Certainly, it would be a lot easier to provide screening on infrequent stopping inter-city routes and probably, if and when the UK gets a high speed rail network access points will be screened in that way.

However, if you are going to force all inter city routes to have compulsory screening then it will mean a great deal of cost with very questionable benefit. If the aim of the terrorist is simply to kill and injure as many people as possible then packed local commuter services are probably the best target.

As I see it, the problem with securing rail transport is that it is a medium level risk as opposed to air transport, which is a high risk. There are many medium level risks around and so securing one simply moves the terrorist onto the next. As I have pointed out, the car bomb is one of the terrorists favourite tools and very effective as far more explosive can be used and the terrorist does not have to sacrifice his or her life in the process.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 05:42 PM   #25
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No place can be safe enough if u're paranoid enough. Like someone said before, optimal monitoring and screening + well coordinated intelligence + general awareness (and not the media-spread poor and tendentious information) should do the job.
I agree with the the ones who claim that the mass transit is safe.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 11:25 PM   #26
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If I have to answer that (from the thread's title) question,I'll do it this way:let's count all the buildings and all the closed areas gathering every day as many people as you can find in a subway train;how many such a places do we have?Next exercise:let's count all the buildings and closed areas gathering as many people as we can see in average bus duric traffic hours;how many it is?Now add these two numbers and ask yourself:how many of those millions of places are protected enough from terrorists carrying bombs...?
Answer is:so few that we're affraid to realize it!
So I'll answer the thread's title question with this: mass transit is as safe as almost every closed area gathering the same number of people.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 05:29 PM   #27
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NY report: MTA's transit security plan in disarray
26 January 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - New York state's comptroller says a post-9/11-security plan for the nation's largest mass transit system is overdue and over budget.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's report released Tuesday says the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's overall costs for the plan ballooned from $591 million to $833 million, leaving just only $59 million to finish the plan's high-tech measures.

DiNapoli says that's not enough to install digital security cameras and motion detectors throughout the city's transit system. But the MTA vowed to finish the project.

Lockheed Martin was in charge of the electronic security plan but sued the MTA last year blaming the agency for delays. The MTA countersued.

A Lockheed Martin spokeswoman declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 10:19 PM   #28
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Seems like if terrorists were to attack a rail system it would involve explosives or biological/chemical substances. A train generally can't be hijacked and sabotage or causing a crash would be impossible with the computerized control systems most have these days.

Maybe eventually we will have sophisicated chemical detection systems and full-body x rays that can detect weapons.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 05:07 PM   #29
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There are plenty of ways to wreck havoc and no security system can be completely fool-proof. Don't think we can ever search and X-ray every passenger everywhere.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 09:03 PM   #30
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Montreal`s pair of fleets expel dust bunnies --errr, more like tumbleweeds-- daily outta the ceiling vents for decades now.....it seems the operating authority here can't comprehend its necessity of weeding all that tinder.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 05:01 PM   #31
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One thing is overlooked in this whole discussion.

Terrorism in the Western World is rare. Extremely rare even. So rare that all the resources and effort invested in screening passengers and protecting transit facilities is better employed elsewhere.

Whenever you leave the house (or whenever you stay at home for that matter) there is a non zero chance that something awfull happens to you. The chance however that the something awfull is "being the victim of a terrorism attack" is for all practical purposes zero.

In 2001 four planes where downed by terrorists but still less people died in plane crashes that year than in 2000 or 2002... The chance of someone in the US dying as the result of a lightning strike is 500 times the chance of dyining in a terrorist attack. In the west more people get killed by dishwashers than by terrorists.

Every day around 15-17 Eurostar trains depart Paris Nord for London. Passengers are screened before embarking, and all luggage is screened. So far no bomb has exploded on this train, so one could be tempted to think that the security measures worked. However, on the platforms next to where the Eurostar leaves about 28 Thalys services leave for Brussels every day. Passengers are not screened before boarding. So far no bomb has exploded on this train either. Nor have any bombs exploded on the other TGV services leaving from Paris Nord, nor on the suburban or regional services. The luggage screening Eurostar passengers are subjected to is an exercise in futility that frustrates passengers, affects Eurostar's profitability and does not add any security whatsoever.

There has been one attempt to bomb a TGV. In 1983 the infamous terrorist "Carlos" put a bomb aboard a Paris - Marseilles TGV. This bomb killed 2 people.

There is a reason why bombs don't explode every day on our trains, busses and planes. The reason is quite simple. There are not a lot of people in the world that want to explode bombs on our trains, busses and planes. And every time these people attempt to explode a bomb on our trains, busses or planes they lose a team of operatives, whether succesfull or not...

The group of hard core terrorists, the kind that doesn't flinch at killing innocent people in job lots is very small. They follow a tactic that cannot work in the long term without our cooperation. Unforatunately we are cooperating with them. We are cooperating by allowing ourselves to be frightened by something that is not posing a serious risk. We are doing the terrorists' job by allowing ourselves to be terrorized. By accepting all the inconvience caused by pointless security theatre.

Stop worrying about terrorism, and stop investing time, money and effort in useless measures like passenger screening. Keep a good working intelligence operation by all means, but if you want to make flying or riding the trains even more safer than it all is give the money and the resources to those who have so far done a stellar job making travel safe: The engineers en technicians running the whole thing behind the scenes.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 05:03 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
What about a mandate, for instance, that any trains carrying passenger for more than 150km to be required to board/unboard passengers in dedicated platforms where everyond is scanned? It would force the creation of a segregated network of stations approved to handle these routes.
You want to use terrorism as an excuse the force the creation of a seperate long distance network?
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Old January 29th, 2010, 05:09 PM   #33
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Stop worrying about terrorism, and stop investing time, money and effort in useless measures like passenger screening.
But the government and media WANT us scared...then they can do anything they want. We live in a society of fear. People are scared of their neighbors for crying out loud!
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Old January 30th, 2010, 01:10 AM   #34
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Why don't we make it mandatory to scan all cars entering roadways for bombs just in case they could be used as a car bomb? Sorry, where do we begin to draw the line when it comes to paranoia?
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Old January 30th, 2010, 10:28 AM   #35
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But the government and media WANT us scared...then they can do anything they want. We live in a society of fear. People are scared of their neighbors for crying out loud!
As a Parisian who grew-up with terror then terrorism sadly, in our transportations (early & mid 90's), may I suggest you to turn off your TV (for example) !

I remember very well the paranoia everywhere in Paris in the late 80's/early 90's (I remember especially my mother : Look around you, beware, if there are too many people: leave the bus/métro etc). I had to take buses and/or Métro. everyday with that !
Today, perhaps I'm "cynical", but I'm not scared: If the train has to blow up...well...

Fortunately in France, we don't live in fear, most of us ! (public authorities do ! They are scared of people's hypothetical protests )

Anyway, except (sometimes) two cops with two militaries in the stations, there is absolutely none (visible) safety policies in our famous high speed trains, neither in cities' public transports (Tram, buses, suburban trains, Métro. etc)


What could bring apparent safety regulations ??? Except fear and suspicion... ?

So, no need to tell the people it's unsafe, no need to show us (imho, of course) !

Last edited by parcdesprinces; January 30th, 2010 at 10:48 AM.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 03:56 PM   #36
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may I suggest you to turn off your TV
I don't watch TV. I didn't say I swallowed every bit of BS that the media throws at me...sadly, the majority of Americans do (and that's all I'll say about that)
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Old January 30th, 2010, 06:33 PM   #37
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Sorry for the misunderstanding because I agree with you. In fact my post was simply in order to show the way of thinking of many Parsians/French people with safety in transportatons.

Of course some media/companies/Government etc try to create a "business of fear" and, like you said a "society of fear", whatever the country !!

My "suggestion" about TV was because you said the media tried to manipulate your country and apparently they succeed with a part of it !
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Old January 30th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parcdesprinces View Post
As a Parisian who grew-up with terror then terrorism sadly, in our transportations (early & mid 90's), may I suggest you to turn off your TV (for example) !

I remember very well the paranoia everywhere in Paris in the late 80's/early 90's (I remember especially my mother : Look around you, beware, if there are too many people: leave the bus/métro etc). I had to take buses and/or Métro. everyday with that !
I remember that I was afraid to take the metro and RER because of terrorism thread in mid 90 when I visited Paris.
Three bomb attacks in the RER system between 1995 and 1996.
It was worse in the mid 1980's when bomb attacks were quite frequent in busy areas of Paris. (I wasn't born then)

Now I couldn't say that we don't see anymore any security, we still see heavily armed militaries in the big stations.
There are securities annoncement and sometimes stations close because of suspicious item.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 03:22 AM   #39
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In one way probabilities of terrorist actions and highway and transit accidents do relate to each other - and that way is what is the probability of personal risk to you.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 03:24 AM   #40
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Of course some media/companies/Government etc try to create a "business of fear" and, like you said a "society of fear", whatever the country !!
Hey, there's money to be made off of fear, a lot of money.
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