Posts Tagged ‘Transportation Security Administration’

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.

Flying Like its 1954

April 14, 2020

Air travel numbers have dropped to the levels of the early 1950s.

On April 8 the Transportation Security Administration said it screened 94,931 people at U.S. airports, the second consecutive day that the number of those screened fell below 100,000.

Air travel statistics show that the last time the U.S. averaged fewer than 100,000 air passengers per day was in 1954.

Airline industry observers say the number of passengers flying may be smaller than TSA numbers indicate because those figures include airline crew members and some employees of airport shops and restaurants located beyond the checkpoints.

The decline in TSA screenings was 96 percent less than it was on April 8, 2019.

TSA said that on March 1 this year it screened nearly 2.3 million passengers at U.S. airport.

The plunge in passengers began in the second week of March and has only shown signs of slowing in recent days, perhaps because it has just about hit its floor.

Back in 1954 the only commercial jetliner was the British-built de Havilland Comet and it had only been flying commercially for two years.

The Boeing 707 was still in development and would not make its first flight until 1957 and enter commercial service on Oct. 26, 1958.

Industry trade group Airlines for America said airline capacity has been slashed by 71 percent although some reports have placed the figure at 90 percent.

Anecdotal reports have surfaced in the news media that some flights have operated with just one passenger aboard.

The trade group said on average only one in every 10 seats on domestic flights is occupied.

Flight cancellations have been widespread in the past four weeks.

U.S. Airlines have reported taking out of service 1,800 planes or about 30 percent of the airline fleet.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, TSA workers are now wearing masks and in some instances face shields.

TSA said 327 of its employees have tested positive for the virus. The union representing flight attendants at American Airlines said 100 of its members have tested positive.

Industry observers expect demand for air travel to grow slowly once the pandemic subsides.

Airline traffic took a major hit following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and air travel once restored didn’t begin to grow until 2003.

Some believe air travel will grow even slower following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that Polling firm Public Opinion Strategies found fewer than half the Americans it surveyed about 10 days ago say they will get on a plane within six months of the spread of the virus flattening.

The firm Stifel Nicolaus projects that in a best case scenario air travel demand won’t return to pre-pandemic numbers until the middle of 2021.

Those traveling tend to be health care professionals on their way to pandemic hot spots and a few traveling to be with family.

United Airlines reported it is losing $100 million a day while Delta Air Lines put its losses at $60 million a day.

U.S. carriers are expected to accept federal emergency grants to cover their payrolls through September.

The industry expects carriers to be smaller in the post pandemic era.

How quickly air travel recovers will hinge upon a number of factors including social distancing rules and how quickly those thrown out of work during the pandemic are able to resume their jobs or find new employment.

TSA to Require Security Training

March 26, 2020

The Transportation Security Administration will require effective June 22 railroads and public transit agencies to provide security training to certain employees to help them identify terrorist-related threats.

The requirement is part of a new rule recently published in the Federal Register.

The rule applies to higher-risk freight railroad carriers, public transportation agencies, passenger railroads and bus companies.

They must provide TSA-approved security training to employees performing security-sensitive functions.

“The training curriculum must teach employees how to observe, assess and respond to terrorist-related threats and/or incidents,” the rule states.

The rule also pertains to security coordinators and the reporting of security concerns to include bus operations. Currently, that requirement applies only to rail operations.

Amtrak, TSA Test Explosives Detector

March 2, 2018

A new explosives testing device is being tested by Amtrak and the Transportation Security Administration. Both said it can help detect such explosives as suicide vests.

The device is known as a stand-off explosive detection unit and it triggers an alarm if someone carrying or wearing an improvised explosive device passes it.

In a news release, TSA said the device identifies objects that block naturally occurring emissions from a person’s body.

Security forces operate the device on a laptop in a train station. The security officer will see either a green image of a person alongside the actual image of the individual, or a color-indicator bar overlay.

The tests are being carried out at New York Penn Station. One device is mounted on a tripod while the other is contained in a trunk. The equipment is mobile, which allows agencies to move it to different stations.

Similar detection devices were tested last year by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.