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Chuck Schumer: Rail, mass transit employees should be checked against federal terror watch list

Senator Charles E. Schumer calls for all rail

Senator Charles E. Schumer calls for all rail and mass transit employees to be cross checked with the federal terror watch list during a news conference at his Manhattan office on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Sen. Charles Schumer wants all rail and mass transit employees in sensitive positions to be cross-checked with the national terror watch list, much like he said airline employees are, as the city gears up for holiday travel, he said Sunday.

Schumer said positions like engineers, train conductors, and those maintaining the tracks on both rail lines like Amtrak as well as the subways, MetroNorth and the Long Island Rail Road, should be checked against the watch list.

“With terror threats on the rise, a transit terror cross check here in the nation’s transit epicenter could be the next lifesaver,” he said. “It could ensure safety for thousands and thousands of New Yorkers, and it’s not very hard or expensive to do.”

Schumer said the 9/11 Commission Report first recommended “safety sensitive transit employees” be checked against the terror watch list, but it was never implemented.

Instead, he said, the Transportation Safety Administration attributed the delay in approving the check to “the complex federal rule-making” process, which Schumer said “is not good enough.”

Currently, he said, background checks vary for different rail lines, and while some can check employees against the watch list, “it should be mandated.”

A representative for the TSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schumer said he hopes this is approved quickly, because “when a new administration comes in they often start over.”

“So let’s get it done already. Right now,” he added. “It’s a no-brainer.”

In fiscal year 2015, Schumer said, Amtrak transported more than 31 million people throughout 46 states, including 1 million in and out of Penn Station.


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