Transparent Commute on the PATH at Exchange Place: PATH Trains Hudson Tubes Hudson & Manhattan RR

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    Transparent Commute on the PATH

By BRADLEY HOPE - Special to the Sun February 3, 2006

New York SunStarting Monday, commuters at one PATH train station in Jersey City will encounter airport-like security as part of a pilot program headed up by the Department of Homeland Security.

They won't, however, have to take off their shoes or empty their pockets: The X-ray equipment and metal detectors have been calibrated to identify amounts of metal similar to what was used in the London and Madrid bombings. During a test demonstration this week, a police officer was able to walk through with a Glock handgun without setting off the alarms, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman, Larry Orluskie, said. "That's not the threat we are looking for" in the testing, he said.

The first phase of the program will last three weeks at the Exchange Place station in Jersey City, ending on March 1. During this time, a team of federally trained screeners from San Francisco will man the equipment at the entrance to the station, Mr. Orluskie said. The goal of the first phase is to get information on how heightened security measures can work in a railway environment, he said.

Exchange Place station is the sixth busiest PATH station, with about 15,000 people going through turnstiles a day. The station is already outfitted with the screening technology, as well as sensors and cameras for analysts to watch the flow of traffic during offpeak and peak hours. The project will cost $10 million, Mr. Orluskie said. Screeners have been ordered to stop scanning people if traffic gets to busy. "We want to make sure we don't infringe on the flow of traffic," he said.

In fact, the scanning is voluntary. If PATH train users don't want to go through the security, they can enter the station through a side entrance or the elevator. "This is a pilot test, a science project, to gather information to better understand what our technology is capable of and what modifications are necessary for the future," a spokesman with Northwest Pacific National Laboratory, Peter Bengston, said. The laboratory is heading up the technical part of the test.

When phase two of the project starts, the Department of Homeland Security will begin testing some of the most state-of-the-art security technology available to see if it can be implemented in train stations. The purpose is to develop the most sophisticated nonintrusive technologies possible to keep traffic flowing through stations while detecting contraband and weapons be fore they enter the railways.

Infrared and milliwave detectors are two technologies being considered for testing, Mr. Bengston said.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Tom Kelly, said there are no plans for a similar program in New York City subways.


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