Posts Tagged ‘Transportation Security Administration’

CVSR Ends Mask Mandate for Passengers

April 19, 2022

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad said on Tuesday that it will no longer require passengers to wear facial masks about trains or at CVSR stations.

The tourist railroad cited a decision by the Transportation Security Administration to no longer enforce the mask mandate, which has been in effect for more than a year for all forms of public transportation.

TSA acted after a federal judge in Florida struck down the mask rule.

In a related development, Akron Metro RTA said it no longer requires passengers to wear masks while riding buses or while inside the agency’s transit hubs.

Officials at Akron-Canton and Cleveland Hopkins airports also said wearing of masks is no longer mandatory while inside the airport terminal. Most airlines also have made mask wearing aboard planes optional.

Greater Cleveland RTA had not announced its mask policy on either its website or Facebook page as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Amtrak Wants TSA to Screen Some of its Passengers Against a Terrorist List

April 9, 2022

Amtrak wants the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to screen some of its passengers against a Terrorist Screening Database, the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit recently reported.

The report said Amtrak wants to determine if any of its passengers may be terrorists or suspected terrorists.

At this point Amtrak would not prohibit any passengers from traveling in the same manner that airlines deny boarding to those on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security no fly list.

In fact, the report said, the information that TSA would provide Amtrak would not include the names of those who traveled on Amtrak who are on a terrorism watch list but would instead provide statistical data.

Hearst said it learned of the plans by reviewing a security privacy impact report it obtained that was created by Homeland Security.

The information that DHS would review about passengers would include their publicly available social media profiles. DHS also would review several months of past travel on the Northeast Corridor.

Hearst said Amtrak would not respond to questions it asked about the proposed program.

The Hearst report said the program would not likely be disclosed by Amtrak until it releases a new online privacy policy.

TSA also declined to comment for the story, Hearst said.

Some civil liberties organizations expressed concern about Amtrak’s proposed screening program, saying it could compromise too much freedom in the name of safety.

“It’s terrifying to me,” said Saira Hussain, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She said those identified during the Amtrak screening program might face greater danger of that information being used whenever they come into contact with law enforcement such as during a traffic stop.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union said it could become a classic example of mission creep.

“Pretty soon we’re going to have people walking through, you know, body scanners to go to a Little League game,” Stanley said. “We don’t want to turn America into an airport.”

The DHS privacy assessment document noted the information gathered in the Amtrak screening program would be kept for two years.

Mask Rule Extended Until April 18

March 13, 2022

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will require facial masks to continue to be worn aboard public transportation conveyances through April 18.

The agency hinted that the mask requirement, which applies to passengers aboard airplanes, trains and buses, might be lifted sometime this spring.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with various government agencies on a revised policy framework for the lifting of face mask mandates.

The mask mandate had been set to expire on March 18 after having been extended twice before.

TSA Issues Cybersecurity Directives to Railroads

December 4, 2021

Two directives have been issued to surface transportation providers by the Transportation Security Administration that seek to combat cybersecurity threats.

In a news release, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees TSA, said the directives provide guidance for voluntary measures to strengthen cybersecurity in response to ongoing threats to transportation providers and the infrastructure that they use.

The directives require higher-risk freight and passenger railroads to designate a cybersecurity coordinator, report cybersecurity incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within 24 hours, develop and implement a cybersecurity incident response plan to reduce the risk of an operational disruption; and complete a cybersecurity vulnerability assessment to identify potential gaps or vulnerabilities in their systems.

TSA recommended that lower-risk surface transportation providers adopt the same practices.

The directives were developed in consultation with the Association of American Railroads

AAR said it plans to work with TSA and its Canadian counterparts to create similar measures for transportation providers based in Canada.

Mask Mandate Extended to January 2022

August 22, 2021

The Transportation Safety Administration confirmed last week that the current federal mask mandate for passengers aboard commercial flights, trains and buses will be extended to Jan. 18, 2022.

A TSA spokesperson said the extension is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation, particularly the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The current mask order is set to expire on Sept. 13 and has been in effect since last January.

It requires face masks to be worn by all travelers on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares and at transportation hubs such as airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations, and seaports.

Although the government of Canada recently said it plans to seek to require all airline passengers to be vaccinated, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said there was no discussion “at this time” about requiring vaccines for domestic airline passengers.

Face Mask Mandate Extended to Sept. 11

May 3, 2021

The requirement that face masks be worn while aboard public transportation has been extended until Sept. 13.

The mandate had been set to expire on May 11 but the Transportation Security Agency said it was extended because the COVID-19 pandemic remains a danger to public health.

“Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic,” TSA said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

The mandate applies to air and intercity rail travel. Those refusing to comply will be subjected to fines of $250 to $1,500.

Amtrak, Unions Seek ‘No Ride’ List

January 15, 2021

Amtrak and two labor unions are urging the federal government to create a “no ride” list similar to the “no fly” list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration.

The proposal was made in the wake of rioting on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol in which a mob invaded the building and sent members of Congress and their staffs seeking shelter.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our employees,” Amtrak CEO William Flynn said in a statement.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our dedicated front line employees have kept our trains running, providing a vital transportation service to essential workers,” he said.

“We join our labor partners in continuing to call upon Congress and the Administration to make assaults against rail workers a Federal crime, as it is for aviation workers, and to expand the TSA’s ‘No Fly List’ to rail passenger service.”

The two unions that called for the “no ride” list included the International Association for Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

The unions sent their request seeking an emergency order to the Federal Railroad Administration and Department of Homeland Security.

The unions noted that there are no laws or regulations that penalize those who interfere with or do harm to members of train crews.

Nor is there a screening process for passengers similar to that conducted by TSA agents at airports.

The FAA in the meantime has announced that it is tightening enforcement of its rules for how airlines will handle unruly passengers aboard flights.

That action followed multiple reports of members of Congress being verbally harassed and threatened about flights and in airports.

Akron-Canton Airport Lauded by TSA

December 21, 2020

Akron-Canton Airport has been named one of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s 2020 airports of the year.

The airport located in Green won the designation in its size category.

TSA officials cited the airport’s efforts to improve its workplace during a challenging year.

That included the TSA officers assigned to CAK launching the airport’s “It Starts With Me” campaign that emphasized personal responsibility and accountability in the workplace.

Winning airports were chosen based on the result of a federal employee survey and a focus group that centered on improving customer service and the work environment.

Other airports honored included George Bush International Airport in Houston, Eugene Airport in Oregon and Miami International Airport.

Akron-Canton also became this month the first Ohio airport to receive a global health accreditation from the Airports Council International, which ensures the facility is following certain measures to mitigate health risks.

That includes cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing, staff protection, physical layout, passenger communications and passenger facilities.

Air Travel Reached 1M Last Sunday

October 21, 2020

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened more than 1 million air travelers on Oct. 18, the highest number of passengers screened at TSA checkpoints since March 17.

In a news release the agency said it screened 6.1 million passengers at checkpoints nationwide during the week of Oct. 12-18.

That was the highest weekly volume for TSA since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.

The news release noted, though, that passenger volumes remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

The trade group Airlines for America said U.S. domestic travel was down 63 percent compared with the same period of 2019 for the week ending Oct. 4.

The TSA news release also said new credential authentication devices are being installed at various airport checkpoints that enable passengers to insert their ID directly into a card reader thus ending the need for a TSA screening officer to touch the ID.

Many checkpoints now feature computed tomography scanners, allowing TSA officers to manipulate an image on screen to get a better view of a bag’s contents.

This allows inspections of some carry-on bags without the need to open those bags and remove their contents during the screening process.


TSA Requiring Security Training Plans by Dec. 21

October 16, 2020

Railroads and transit systems are facing a December deadline to submit to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration their plans on compliance with rules on security training.

Freight and passenger railroads along with “higher risk” transit systems must submit those plans by Dec. 21, 2020.

Trains magazine reported on its website that some forms of railfanning might be deemed to be a security threat.

This includes watching railroad or transit operations, or taking photographs.

Part 1570 of the regulations includes as examples “taking photographs or video of infrequently used access points, personnel performing security functions (for example, patrols, badge/vehicle checking), or security-related equipment (for example, perimeter fencing, security cameras).”

Also described as a suspicious activity is “loitering near conveyances, railcar routing appliances or any potentially critical infrastructure, observation through binoculars, taking notes, or attempting to measure distances.”

The rules apply to all Class I railroads and any freight railroad that hosts Class I carrier or passenger operator.

Rail lines handling hazardous materials and those operating within a designated “high threat urban area” are also covered by the rule.

The TSA lists 46 such areas in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

TSA estimates that the cost of compliance to the freight railroad industry will be $35.2 million over a 10-year period.

It will be $23.8 million over the same period for passenger carriers and transit operators.

“The regulation isn’t as onerous as it may appear,” said Harry Schultz, a TSA section chief.

Railroads and transit agency must have a security coordinator and at least one alternate security coordinator who must be accessible to the TSA 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Significant security violations are to be reported to the TSA within 24 hours.

Affected railroads and transit systems must provide security training to any employee or contractor operating, inspecting or maintaining a transportation vehicle and to those responsible for dispatching.

Also covered by the rules are workers who come into contact with the traveling public, such as ticket agents and onboard train staff.