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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 1, 2010

Administration boosts transit security, but not by as much as promised

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to upgrade surface transportation security.

"Every weekday, Americans take 34 million trips on public transportation systems to get to work, school and beyond," the Obama campaign said. "Even though recent attacks have happened on public transit in Madrid, Mumbai and London, the Bush administration has invested only a small fraction of the $6 billion that transportation officials have said is necessary to implement needed security improvements. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that this critical hole in our homeland security network must be addressed."

In the proposed fiscal year 2010 budget, the administration sought roughly $128 million for surface transportation efforts run by the Transportation Security Administration. That was more than double the fiscal year 2009 level of $63 million, which in turn was higher than the nearly $47 million spent in 2008.

The final Homeland Security appropriations bill signed on Oct. 28, 2009, did not provide as much money as the administration had sought, but it still represented a big step up from 2009. The bill provides $111 million for TSA's surface transportation activities -- a 76 percent increase, including funding for 100 new security inspectors for subways, trains and buses.

Such numbers are a tiny fraction of the $6 billion referenced in the promise (and they were not bolstered by any additional funds in the economic stimulus package), but they do represent a significant increase from prior years' amounts. So we rate this promise a Compromise.

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