TSA issues new final rule to enhance training for surface transportation providers

New rulemaking fulfills congressional mandate
National Press Release
Thursday, March 26, 2020

WASHINGTON —  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a new final rule that requires higher-risk surface transportation providers to provide  security training for certain employees. The rule affects certain railroads, public transportation systems and over-the-road buses.

The rule, published in the Federal Register, fulfills multiple congressional mandates and puts in place important training requirements to enhance surface transportation security. In special consideration of on-going challenges to the surface transportation industry in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), TSA has delayed the effective date of the final rule from the normal 30 days to an extended 90 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

The rule is intended to solidify the baseline of security for higher-risk surface transportation operations and sustain a commitment to ensuring employees within higher-risk surface systems and operations are prepared to help prevent a terrorist act and mitigate the consequences. Preparing and training these employees to observe, assess and respond to anomalies, threats and incidents provides an important and effective tool for averting or mitigating potential attacks by terrorists or others with malicious intent that may target surface transportation.

Surface transportation systems are, by nature, open systems. Unlike the aviation environment, direct responsibility to secure surface transportation systems falls primarily on the system owners and operators. Many of these owners and systems have already enhanced their security baseline through voluntary measures, including actions supported by the Department of Homeland Security through funding provided under various grant programs.

This rule is one part of TSA’s comprehensive programs intended to enhance surface transportation security. TSA also will continue to work with stakeholders to harden soft targets in public transportation, freight and passenger railroads, and over-the-road buses through several existing programs and measures that TSA has implemented to protect surface transportation systems. This work includes collaborative assessments of operations and infrastructure and recommendations on how the owner/operators can increase their security. 

Examples of additional TSA surface transportation security initiatives include:

  • Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, which are frequently deployed in the surface transportation environments collaboratively with local law enforcement and other stakeholders to deter and defeat terrorist activities;
  • The Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program, which brings public and private sector partners together by conducting modal and intimal exercise and workshops to train, exercise, and share information and address transportation security issues to protect travelers, commerce and infrastructures;
  • Grant programs, which support surface transportation risk-reduction or mitigation measures by applying Federal funding to critical security projects;
  • The Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement program, through which TSA inspectors conduct a thorough security assessment of public transportation agencies, passenger railroads, bus companies and trucking companies to help these agencies identify areas in which to improve the protection of critical infrastructure assets.
  • The Transportation Security Template and Assessment Review Toolkit, which is a TSA-created resource to assist operators in developing effective security practices in the construction of their security plans.