World News‎ > ‎

DC metro begins random bag screening

posted 21 Dec 2010, 08:38 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 21 Dec 2010, 08:40 ]

After long planning, the DC Metro starts random bag screening at select subway stops amidst heightened security concerns for the holidays.

The Metro Authority in Washington, DC began random bag screening on the capital city's subway system on Tuesday (December 21).

"We just look at best practices that you know a number of transit departments throughout the United States have been doing it, so we just wanted to kind of join that effort in the War on Terrorism, and go ahead and begin out package here in DC," explained Deputy Chief Ronald Pavlik of the Metro Transit Police.

After initially planning for the increased security in 2008, the Metro Transit Authority partnered with the Transportation Security Administration, which is notable for its airport screenings. They started the bag checks at two stops along the system that experience heavy commuter traffic -- College Park Station in Maryland and the Braddock Road Station in Virginia.

The increased security comes in a week of arrests in the U.K., a bomb threat in Rome, and a bomb scare at Newark Airport.

The process on the DC Metro system did not caused any delays during the morning commute. Based on a calculation of the volume of commuters at the stations, police select a passenger carrying a bag for screening before they enter the Metro System. They bag is then swabbed for explosives and other dangerous substances. A machine then evaluates the swab in a process that takes about 15 seconds.

Most commuters were not bothered by the bag checks as long as it their trip to work wasn't delayed.

"I'm fine with it as long as it doesn't take too long, you know? Everybody's in a hurry, especially right now, so," explained Aaron Basler as he entered the Metro System at College Park.

"I was just surprised they chose me. It's okay, it's very good to check, because if it keeps us safe, so I think it's a very good way of making sure the Metro is safe," added Michael Carl.

The Metro Authority planned to start screenings two years ago but a slew of complaints stalled the operation.

Some passengers during the morning rush hour were still not happy with the move.

"I don't like it, of course not," said Jessica, a commuter who didn't offer her full name. "Because it's invasive. It's intrusive. I'm a law abiding citizen and it makes me feel like I'm about to do something wrong. That's why."

Passengers selected who don't submit to the screening will be asked to not travel with their bag or to enter the subway system at another location.