Report: NYC commuter rail tunnels vulnerable to terrorist attack
The forecast is ominous: A small explosive sneaked onto a commuter train punches a 50-square-foot (4.65 sq. meter) hole in a tunnel under the Hudson River. More than a million gallons (3.9 million liters) of water a minute surges in. Flooding engulfs parts of the system within hours.
That worst-case scenario was included in a draft analysis of the PATH rail system linking New Jersey and Manhattan, obtained by The New York Times and reported in Friday's editions. The analysis suggests the system's tunnels, which serve 230,000 riders each weekday, are more vulnerable to terrorist attack than originally thought, and raised questions about whether officials have taken enough precautions.
"It's a cause for concern," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday, adding that he was waiting to see a copy.
Gov. George Pataki said he had received the analysis and called it part of an ongoing effort to look at security on regional transit systems.
"There are going to be continual efforts to upgrade the infrastructure and to take security measures to protect us in the post-9/11 era," he said Friday.
Other lawmakers, including New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, said the report shows a need for more federal funding for transit security.
Officials with the agency that runs the system, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, would not discuss the specifics of the analysis.
"The Port Authority constantly conducts threat analyses and risk assessments for our facilities and we will continue to work with our partners on all levels of government," agency spokesman John McCarthy said Friday. "It's an unending process, as we are never satisfied and will always look for ways to upgrade security.
"If at any time we believed the riders of the PATH were in imminent jeopardy, we would immediately close the system," he added.
The Port Authority police recently increased patrols and bag searches in the PATH system, and the agency's board voted last week to spend $180 million to boost security on the rail line.