Researchers Hope Lessons Learned in Second Intifada Will Open Dialogue About U.S. Transit Security

By Carlton Purvis

Researchers at the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) hope to open discussion of the safety of U.S. public transit systems with a study of attacks targeting bus systems in Israel, published on Thursday.

The report, titled “Security Awareness for Public Bus Transportation: Case Studies of Attacks Against the Israeli Public Bus System,” authored by Bruce R. Butterworth, Shalom Dolev, and Brian Michael Jenkins of San Jose State University, examines in detail 16 actual and attempted attacks in an effort to provide information on which methods made attacks more lethal and effective countermeasures. The United States has not experienced any successful terrorist attacks against buses.

The MIT database on Terrorist and Serious Criminal Attack against Public Surface Transportation contains details for more than 3,000 attacks between 1970 and 2012. Almost half of those attacks were against buses, bus stations, and bus stops. Eight thousand people were killed and more than 30,000 injured in attacks, according to the data. Bus attacks accounted for 55 percent of fatalities in transportation attacks, MTI says.

Buses are an important fixture of public transportation in developing countries, but remain a primary target for terrorists. The study focused on Israel, however, because bus bombings in Israel account for a large percentage of attacks worldwide. The country was hit especially hit hard during the Second Intifada, a period of West Bank and Gaza strip violence from 2000-2006.

The authors say U.S. transportation regulators should study the attacks listed in the report and determine how applicable the dangers are to current transit systems.

For more on threats facing U.S. bus systems see "GAO: TSA Needs to Complete Risk Assessments of Nation's Commercial Trucking and Bus Industries" and "DHS Unveils MassTransit Cameras That Mimic Black Boxes" from Security Management.


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