Metrolink Begins Random Searches. Riders React.

metrolink_train.jpg

This week, Metrolink will begin random searches of riders to help make trains more secure for riders.  LA County Sheriffs will be conducting the searches which Metrolink claims are not in response to a specific threat.

A flyer to passengers left on Metrolink trains explains the procedure:

Prior to initiation of a screening event, signs will be posted at all entrances to the station parking lots and platforms to notify passengers that the deputies are present and the random security screening will be conducted. Access to the station platform will be restricted; passengers must pass through the checkpoint to gain access to the station platform.

The new random searches have already come under praise and criticism from Metrolink passengers.

Robert Akrow, the owner of the website metrolinkrider.com, went so far as to claim that the program is an example of why Metrolink is in need of an independent inspector general.

So lets assume that a terrorist has a bomb and is planning to put it on a Metrolink train.   Upon entering the station parking lot, he would see the sign and then realize that he could not do his intended deed.  It would be a simple process for the terrorist to go to the next station or wait until tomorrow and try again.

The stupidity of this program shows just how backward Metrolink’s thinking is.  Do they really think the terrorists are that dumb?

This demonstrates why Metrolink needs an Inspector General, to ferret out fraud, waste, abuse, and stupidity.  A Metrolink Riders Union is another good idea.

Meanwhile, Brian Buss, the founder of LAPassenger.com, sees value in the current system and would like to see more security on trains.

I’m with California voters who passed 1B in supporting security improvements to our growing rail transit system, as long as searches are conducted with little impact to train and passenger schedules.  LAPassenger’s mission is to send train delay alerts to passengers’ cell phones, so we like the current system which includes random K-9 searches does not interfere with passengers getting on the train.  It delays the train only for about a minute….

…If the intent is to truly randomize the searches, there should be a variety of random time and place searches; K-9 station boarding, platform passenger checkpoints, on-board passenger audits, and the continued visible presence of law enforcement officers on the trains, both uniformed and plain clothes officers.

If riders find Metrolink’s efforts at security irksome enough to do something about it, there isn’t much recourse.  Previous efforts to use the courts to fight similar search plans have come up empty.

All this extra security, and to think Metrolink already has a gating system to keep their riders safe from terrorists!  If any readers witness or get searched and want to write about it, send your story to damien@streetsblog.org.

Photo: Borderhacker/Flickr

  • I feel like *most* of the “security” measures we’ve implemented in relation to transportation since 9/11 – at least, most of the ones that people actually see – are actually a combination of theater (to make people feel like the government is doing something, even when it doesn’t help much), and a long campaign to normalize invasive behavior by the state.

    If you have to be registered and fingerprinted to drive a car, which will have its license plates (or built-in insurance transponder…) scanned tracking your movements, and submit to a search of your person and belongings if you want to use a train or a bus or airplane, movement becomes something that you can really only do with the tacit permission of the state. “No fly” list? How about a “No rail” or “No drive” list?

    I feel like riding a bike is the fastest point to get from point A to point B without the government snooping on you. I just wish it could also be done with a little government infrastructure!

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