PITTSBURGH – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today presented a $928,250 grant to the Port Authority of Allegheny County to improve busway and bus garage security and to continue conducting employee training and emergency drills. Since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided approximately $4.3 million to Allegheny County through grants under the National Infrastructure Protection Program (NIPP), now administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Capabilities Division.
"This award will help the Port Authority of Allegheny County upgrade key security features in its transportation infrastructure, a prime goal of these grants," said TSA Federal Security Director Joe Terrell. "DHS's two-tiered approach ensures that communities such as Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have the opportunity to compete for grants that will make a significant difference in protecting transit passengers."
The award is part of $14.2 million in grants to Tier II urban areas across the nation. The funds are available through the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP), which is part of the department's NIPP. The resources provided by this program strengthen the nation's ability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies that could impact the country's critical infrastructure.
"This funding will help the Port Authority better protect its riders and facilities from criminals as well as terrorists," said Congressman Mike Doyle (PA-14). "The federal government has an important role to play in financing security improvements for our nation's critical infrastructure. I have been a strong supporter of increased federal funding for local first responders and other government agencies responsible for preventing and responding to terrorist attacks and other emergencies, and I'm glad to see that the Department of Homeland Security has been responsive to our region's needs."
"This is great news for western Pennsylvania, including the approximately 34,000 people who commute to work on the East and West Busways every day and the thousands more in our region who regularly use public transportation," said Congressman Jason Altmire (PA-4), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "This grant will enhance security at park and ride facilities and within the bus divisions and will aid Port Authority employees in preparing contingency plans for emergencies. Safe and efficient public transportation is essential for our region's economic development. These funds will help ensure that Pittsburgh's transit system has top notch security measures in place to protect the safety of its passengers."
The TSGP utilizes a two-tiered, risk-based approach that focuses on high-risk and high-consequence transit systems. On May 9, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff announced $157 million in funding to Tier I urban areas, which are comprised of high passenger-density and rail systems with significant infrastructures, such as underwater tunnels and stations, as well as ferry systems. Urban areas that received funds in previous years, but were not eligible in Tier I, qualified to apply and compete for TSGP Tier II funds.
"The Port Authority of Allegheny County serves approximately 240,000 people each weekday," said U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. "I commend DHS for providing funding to enhance the Port Authority's security features so that the busways and light rail continue to be safe travel options for the Pittsburgh region."
TSGP Tier II allocations place a strong emphasis on training and preparedness of transit agencies' frontline workforce. Eligible Tier II transit systems were also permitted to focus on other priorities, including emergency drills and public awareness programs that support overall system preparedness.
Said Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland, "We thank DHS for its continued support of Port Authority's security initiatives, which have significantly enhanced the safety of our public transportation system in the Pittsburgh region. Providing a secure environment for our customers and taking proactive measures that help protect our infrastructure will remain critical goals."
"I commend the decision made by the Department of Homeland Security to award the Port Authority of Allegheny County with this critical funding," said U.S. Senator Robert Casey. "The Port Authority of Allegheny County plays an important role in Pennsylvania's economy. This grant allows Allegheny County to improve the bus infrastructure and will give employees better training in case of emergencies to ensure that it remains a safe and a reliable means of transportation."
This year, nearly $445 million has been allocated for NIPP programs. Infrastructure protection grants considered threat, vulnerability and consequences, and recognized the unique characteristics of our nation's seaports, transit systems and other critical infrastructure assets. Since its inception, the IPP has awarded nearly $2 billion to critical infrastructure sectors.
"Pittsburgh's transportation infrastructure is the backbone of our economy," said Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18). "This funding enhances the security for our region's mass transit commuters, which is now necessary in today's world. As new transportation security needs arise, Congress and the Department of Homeland Security will meet the challenges head on."
For information on allocations, please visit www.dhs.gov.