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    $10 Million dollar test program will run about 3 weeks at the Port Authority

WABC By Ken Rosato (Jersey City-WABC, February 6, 2006)

- Beginning this morning, thousands of commuters will be screened, scanned, and in some cases swiped for explosive residue. The Department of Homeland security is turning the path station at Exchange Place into a test case.

Eyewitness News reporter Ken Rosato is live at Exchange Place in Jersey City.

The Port Authority says the screening will add one minute to your commute but you don't even have to put up with that if you don't want to- at least for now. For the 15,000 riders who use the path station at exchange place this is all voluntary. The screening will be similar to what we've seen at airports since '9/11'.

This screening is a ten million dollar test program running just three weeks. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security needs real-world data to develop the technology to screen for explosives at a distance. That's become a priority since the Madrid bombings in 2004 and last summer's subway attack in London. This scanning will be done by screeners brought in from San Francisco International Airport.

PATH train passenger: "I think it's good it makes me feel safer."

Screeners have been told to stop scanning people if the foot traffic gets too busy. And if you want to skip the whole thing, you can ignore the turnstiles and use the elevator or the side entrance to avoid the screeners. This voluntary phase one, of course, leads to phase two. Infrared and milliwave detectors will be tried. The technology will be state-of-the-art but still non-intrusive.

New York City, by the way, has no plans for any kind of similar system.

(Copyright 2006 WABC-TV)

and from the Associated Press:

N.J. Starts Bomb-Screening Train Riders By MATTHEW VERRINDER (Associated Press Writer)

From Associated Press February 07, 2006 12:10 PM EST

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Commuters heading to work in Manhattan walked through metal detectors Tuesday at a busy train station and fed their bags into X-ray machines at the start of a test of an airport-style security screening program. The $1 million test program is a response to the train bombings in Madrid and London.

The program at the Exchange Place PATH station is designed to see how well the technology works for large numbers of daily rail travelers. The equipment was desensitized so keys, loose change and cell phones wouldn't set off alarms. The scanners are intended to detect large quantities of metal, as in the explosives vests used by suicide bombers in the Middle East, said Doug Bauer, an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In an effort to keep passengers moving quickly through the system, commuters won't be required to take off their shoes or empty their pockets. The screening process should take about one minute, officials said.

Commuter Timothy Warren said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack across the Hudson River he still gets "a little nervous going that way," and he thought the 30 seconds it took to be screened was acceptable. "But if it gets a little slower, like if it takes three to five minutes, then it will be a pain," said Warren, 38, a computers systems engineer from Summit.

If the test is considered successful, similar equipment could be used on the rest of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson train system and on other mass transit systems around the country, authorities said. About 15,000 passengers a day pass through the Exchange Place station.

Associated Press Writer Wayne Parry in Newark contributed to this report.

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