Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Transportation

Transit Security Design Considerations

FTA Office of Research Demonstration and Innovation
FTA Office of Program Management

FTA-TRI-MA-26 7085-05


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The United States Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof.
Trade or manufacturers' names may appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the objective of this report. The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter 1.0 Introduction
Chapter 2.0 A Systems Approach to Security Design: Adopting an Inclusive View
Chapter 3.0 Security in the Transit Environment
Chapter 4.0 Developing a Security Strategy
Chapter 5.0 Access Management
Chapter 6.0 Infrastructure
Chapter 7.0 Vehicles
Chapter 8.0 Communications
Chapter 9.0 Security Systems Integration

Appendix A: Chronology of Terrorist Attacks Against Public Transit
Appendix B. Case Studies of Transit Security Initiatives
Appendix C. Performance Measures
Appendix D. Vehicle Barrier Types and Effectiveness
Appendix E. Vehicle Barrier Selection and Implementation Considerations
Appendix F. Codes and Standards
Appendix G. Lessons Learned from Transit Communications Emergencies

Working Group Members

go to top of the page

List of Figures

Figure 3 1. Transit System Assets
Figure 3 2. Redirection of Blast Force
Figure 4-1 Corresponding Threats to Level of Protection
Figure 4-2 Example of Families of Technologies for Exterior Sensors
Figure 5-1 Transit System Assets
Figure 5-2 Layers of Security
Figure 5-3. Access Management Component Integration
Figure 5-4. Entry Control Techniques
Figure 5-5. Credentialing and Access Control
Figure 5-6. Speed Reduction Approach
Figure 5-7. Blast Overpressures as a Function of Distance
Figure 6 1. Standoff Distance
Figure 6 2. Building Entrance Location
Figure 6 3. Variation of Explosive Pressure and Duration with Distance from Explosion
Figure 6 4. Isolation of Vulnerable Areas
Figure 7 1. Percent of 2002 Transit Bus Fleet By Power Source
Figure 9 1. FTA Generic Security Architecture
Figure 9 2. "Vee" Model of System Development
Figure 9 3. Example of a High-Level Security System Architecture
Figure E-1. Passive Vehicle-Barrier Capabilities
Figure E-2. Concrete Filled Steel Bollards
Figure E-3. Jersey Barrier
Figure E-4. Straight Retaining Wall
Figure E-5. Sloped-Back Retaining Wall
Figure E-6. Reinforced Concrete Planter/Retaining Wall
Figure E-7. Active Barrier Test Results and Examples

go to top of the page

List of Tables

Table 5 1. llluminance Specification
Table 5 2. Vehicle Barrier Usage
Table 5 3. Blast Damage
Table 5 4. Blast Charge and Damage Distance
Table 5 5. Sample Pre-Employment Background Screening Matrix
Table 6 1. Bomb Size and Blast Range
Table 6-2. Security-Oriented Design Strategies for Transit Stations
Table 6-3. Security-Oriented Design Strategies for Transit Stops
Table 6-4. Security-Oriented Design Strategies for Administrative Buildings and OCCs
Table 6-5. Security-Oriented Design Strategies for Maintenance and Storage Facilities
Table 6-6. Security-Oriented Design Strategies for Elevated Structures
Table 6-7. Security-Oriented Design Strategies for Tunnels
Table 6-8. Security-Oriented Design Strategies for Rights-of-way, Tracks, and Signals
Table 6-9. Security-Oriented Design Strategies for Unmanned Structures
Table 7 1. Bus Vehicle Design Solutions
Table 7 2. Rail Vehicle Design Solutions
Table 8 1. Security-Oriented Design Considerations for Communications Systems
Table 9 1. Systems Engineering Activity Flow
Table 9 2. System Development Management Process Groups and the System Development Life Cycle
Table B-1. Effective Practices for Access Control - Transit Agency #1
Table B-2. Effective Practices for Access Control - Transit Agency #2
Table B-3. Effective Practices for Access Control - Transit Agency #3
Table B-4. Effective Practices for Access Control - U.S. Agency
Table E-1. Tested Barrier Design - Test Results

go to top of the page

OMB No. 0704-0188
Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington, VA 22202-4302, and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (0704-0188), Washington, DC 20503.
1. AGENCY USE ONLY (Leave blank)

November 2004
Final Report
January 2003 to January 2005

Transit Security Design Considerations

6. AUTHOR(S) Matthew Rabkin, Robert Brodesky, * Frank Ford, * Marsha Haines, * Jordan Karp, **** Kristin Lovejoy, * Terry Regan, ** Linda Sharpe, *** Margaret Zirker***

U.S Department of Transportation
Research and Special Programs Administration
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
55 Broadway, Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02142-1093


U.S Department of Transportation
Federal Transit Administration
Office of Research and Technology/Office of Program Management
Washington, DC 20590


*EG&G Technical Services, Inc. **Planners Collaborative ***Cambridge Systematics ****Chenega Advanced Solutions & Engineering, LLC

13. ABSTRACT (Maximum 200 words)

This document provides security design guidance on three major transit system components - bus vehicles, rail vehicles, and transit infrastructure. It provides a resource for transit agency decision makers, members of design, construction and operations departments, security and law enforcement personnel and consultants and contractors, in developing an effective and affordable security strategy following the completion of a threat and vulnerability assessment and development of a comprehensive plan.Developed by the Federal Transit Administration in collaboration with transit industry public and private sector stakeholders, these design considerations provide actionable steps that transit agency staff can select from to create a security strategy.

Public transit, security, transit security, design, threat and vulnerability assessment, access management, systems integration





NSN 7540-01-280-5500

Standard Form 298 (Rev. 2-89)
Prescribed by ANSI Std. 239-18

go to top of the page


As transit agencies across the United States take steps to protect their systems from possible terrorist attacks, agency decision makers are confronted with numerous security issues and demands. They must assess passengers, system assets, and potential threats, and determine which threats are most likely and which have the potential to cause the most damage. To help the public transit industry manage these high-risk security demands, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has collaborated with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center of the U.S. Department of Transportation (the Volpe Center), the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and other stakeholders to develop an approach for protecting public transit systems that recognizes the fundamental interconnectivity of transit systems, and emphasizes the importance of readiness and vigilance.

This document provides an overview of the major assets of transit systems-bus vehicles, rail vehicles, and transit infrastructure and communications-as well as a preliminary assessment of the vulnerabilities to various methods of attack inherent in each asset. In addition, this document addresses the topics of access management, systems integration, and communications-all crucial to the protection of transit assets. Although many of the subject areas are addressed discretely in the document, users of the resource must recognize the interconnectivity of the considerations and hardening strategies that are presented. For this reason, consulting the sections on both infrastructure and access management will provide additional value when developing a strategy for protecting and hardening a maintenance facility or rail terminal.

The FTA transit security initiative recognizes that public transit is a frequent target of terrorist activities-nationwide as well as worldwide. FTA has based the next phase of its transit security program on the objectives of the National Strategy for Homeland Security, which was issued on July 17, 2002. When a transit agency improves the security of its assets and infrastructure, there are direct benefits through protecting people and indirect benefits through operational and service enhancements. This, and other security-related efforts, will help transit agencies meet their highest priority-the protection of passengers, employees, vendors, and contractors, and the general public.

The FTA's Office of Research and Technology (TRI) and Office of Program Management (TPM) sponsored the development of these Transit Security Design Considerations, and sincerely thanks Task Managers Rhonda Crawley from TPM and Lewis Clopton from TRI for their management and leadership. The FTA acknowledges the efforts of Richard Gerhart (TPM) and Ronald Jackson, Office of the Chief Counsel, and the contributions of Marcel Belanger, Brian Cronin, Quon Y. Kwan, Henry Nejako, Sean Ricketson, and Terrell Williams from TRI on various transit industry working groups. The FTA extends sincere thanks to the team at the Volpe Center for their research, coordination, and preparation of these considerations, with particular thanks to Matthew Rabkin, project team leader, and Joseph LoVecchio, team leader for the chapter on communications. Analysts and writers include: Robert Brodesky, Frank Ford, Marsha Haines, and Kristin Lovejoy from EG&G Technical Services; Terry Regan from Planners Collaborative; Linda Sharpe and Margaret Zirker from Cambridge Systematics; and Jordan Karp from Chenega Advanced Solutions & Engineering. The FTA also appreciates the efforts of the editing team of Elizabeth Bent, Katherine Blythe, Nathan Grace, and Cassandra Oxley from Chenega Advanced Solutions & Engineering.

In addition, the FTA acknowledges the contributions of the members and staff of APTA and the Community Transportation Association of America, along with the staff of the TRB. The FTA also acknowledges the contributions of Nicholas Bahr and Robert Lauby of Booz Allen Hamilton, along with David Wagner and Kevin Chandler of Battelle.

Finally, the FTA would like to acknowledge the input of the following transit industry members who provided technical expertise as members of the Transit Security Working Group, Systems Integration Working Group, Credentialing Working Group, Access Management Working Group, Surface Infrastructure Working Group, Tunnel Infrastructure Working Group, Bus Vehicle Working Group, Rail Vehicle Working Group, and Communications Working Group. Names of individual working group members are listed in the Transit Industry "Working Groups" reference material following the appendices.

go to table of contents

Executive Summary

Since the events of September 11, 2001, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has initiated an aggressive effort to assess and strengthen the security readiness of the public transit industry. For many transit agencies in the United States, particularly small- to medium-sized agencies, the need for greater security awareness and preparation has reshaped the task of providing transportation services to the public. To assist the public transit industry in managing these new demands, FTA has developed security-oriented design considerations for transit bus and rail vehicles, and for the transportation infrastructure. These considerations are intended to aid transit agencies in developing security strategies.

FTA developed these design considerations in collaboration with transit industry public and private sector stakeholders. They are not intended to provide industry-wide standards, but rather a compendium of actionable steps from which transit agency staff can select from when creating a security strategy. Intended to guide public transit agencies in their efforts to deter and minimize the effects of attacks against their facilities, riders, employees, and the general public, these considerations can be implemented as part of efforts to harden and retrofit transit agency assets. This document provides guidance on three major components of transit systems-bus vehicle, rail vehicles, and transit infrastructure-addresses the topics of systems integration, access management, and communications, all of which are crucial to the protection of transit assets.

This document is a resource for transit agency decision makers, members of design, construction and operations departments, security and law enforcement personnel, and consultants and contractors, in developing an effective and affordable security strategy following the completion of a threat and vulnerability assessment (TVA) and development of a comprehensive plan. In developing a security strategy, a transit agency must determine which of its security issues are most critical, and then establish a timeline for addressing them. The ultimate goal of the strategy is to move a transit agency closer to achieving an integrated security system by combining to varying degrees (depending on the issues) design, access management, communications, technology, and system integration practices.

Transit agencies can implement their strategy incrementally, and make discrete decisions as to which countermeasures are most appropriate for new construction, reconstruction and retrofits, and vehicle procurements. If security strategy is implemented with a systems approach in mind, a transit agency could eventually build an integrated security system-one that is flexible and scalable and transmits information and data in real time. This, however, requires vigilance to ensure that security considerations are incorporated into the agency's programmatic, operational, and financial decisions.

This document consists of nine chapters and several appendices. The first four chapters present a macro view of transit security, beginning with a discussion of FTA's rationale for developing security design considerations. The introductory chapters also address the dilemma facing transit agencies of maintaining open systems versus making them more secure. Public transit agencies operate systems in which public access not only is crucial to their daily operations; it also fulfills the agency's mission. However, in the new security paradigm, agencies should consider ways to use existing and emerging design applications and technologies to harden physical assets and ensure that the sensitive areas of systems are accessible only by those permitted to be there. The introductory chapters also take into account the multiple ways in which public transit systems are in fact systems, connected not only physically but also through an intricate network of technology, law, and regulation, linked together and to other elements of the regional transportation network. These chapters also emphasize the importance of developing a security strategy based on the criticality of the agency's vulnerabilities, and consider priorities for addressing them. The discussion recognizes the complexity of the transit environment, by advocating the importance of using a system approach to integrate the diverse functions, technologies, and operating relationships.

The following chapters present specific design considerations relating to an agency's physical assets-bus and rail vehicles, infrastructure components, and communications equipment and systems, along with a discussion of the tools necessary for building an integrated security system-access management, communications, and systems integration.

go to table of contents

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list