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    New Security System In Place On PATH Train's WTC Line  

Thursday August 10, 2006: Video from NY1
A new security system on the World Trade Center PATH train line began its two-week testing period on Thursday. Before getting on the train at the Exchange Place station in New Jersey, PATH train riders are passing through an infrared body scanner that can detect foreign objects under their clothes. Officials say the scanners should only delay commuters one or two minutes.

Many passengers say they'll gladly take the extra time if it means safer trains. "I think it's a necessary evil, said another PATH train rider. It's a little inconvenient, but I think under the circumstances it's a worthwhile thing to do."

The security system is part of a $10 million federal program. Under the plan, inspectors will also check passengers farther away from the platform entrances. Officials say during peak times, passengers will be chosen at random.

Link to Video

NY1s Bobby Cuza filed this report.

Many of the commuters using the Exchange Place PATH station in Jersey City Thursday were in for a surprise. Before getting on the train, they had to step inside a new, high-tech chamber designed to detect unusual objects beneath a person's clothing, like a bomb. Though how it worked, exactly, was a mystery to most.

I feel like I'm on the Starship Enterprise or something," said one commuter. [I have] no idea what it does, said another. I didn't feel anything. I was hoping that I would disappear and magically reappear in Manhattan, but it didn't happen."

In fact, the machine relies on something called millimeter-wave technology. It emits a low-wave signal, then reads how those signals bounce off you, creating a digital image. Other passengers went through a different screening process, one that uses two cameras to pick up millimeter waves, one from the back and one from the front. They are two of eight new technologies being field-tested here by the Department of Homeland Security, part of a $10 million, two-year program to improve rail security.

Most riders seemed willing to tolerate the inconvenience. I definitely think people are willing to give up a few seconds of their day to make sure they won't die on the train, said one commuter. I mean, it makes sense to me." I thought it was fine, as long as it doesn't build up a big line and take up too much time," said another.

That's a real concern. It's hard to see how a system that takes between 30 seconds and a minute to screen each passenger could work on city subways, which provide 4.5 million rides every day. In fact, even though ridership on the PATH is much lighter, riders are being screened only during off-peak hours, to minimize disruption.

These scanners will be here only two weeks, till July 27th. Homeland Security officials will then analyze the data from this trial and others around the country, and issue a report to Congress in the fall. - Bobby Cuza

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