Friday, 30 April 2004

USA to start searching rail passengers

TSA to Screen AMTRAK, MARC Passengers at New Carrollton, Md., in Pilot Program with National Potential

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Rear Adm. David M. Stone, Acting Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration; and officials of AMTRAK, MARC [commuter trains], WMATA [Metrorail subway and surface rapid transit trains] and the U.S. Department of Transportation will hold a press conference to announce the Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot (TRIP), a pilot program for screening rail passengers for explosives.

TRIP will evaluate the use of emerging technologies to screen passengers and their carry-on items in a non-climate controlled environment. The pilot program of approximately 30 days is expected to yield important data on customer wait times and screening effectiveness, cost and impact on AMTRAK and MARC operations.

WHO: Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson
Rear Adm. David M. Stone
AMTRAK, MARC, WMATA officials

WHAT: News conference and demonstration of rail screening process

WHEN: Tuesday, May 4, 2004
12:00 Noon
11:00- 11:45 AM media set up

WHERE: New Carrollton Train Station
New Carrollton, Md.

Due to limited parking and camera space, all television outlets wishing to cover the demonstration will need to call and RSVP to Darrin Kayser at TSA (571) 227-2829. When you RSVP, please let TSA know if you will be going live or plan to send a morning crew. Also note that cable runs will exceed 500 feet. Only those that RSVP prior to 5:00 PM, Monday will be guaranteed space.

Not surprisingly, there's no mention in today's announcement as to the claimed legal basis for the searches, whether the "screening" will also include access by the TSA to Amtrak reservations (for which no Privacy Act notice has been published), or whether refunds will be available to passengers who have already purchased tickets, and entered into contracts of carriage with Amtrak, but who don't "consent" to the new search and/or the transfer of their reservation information to the government.

Under all airlines' conditions of carriage I've ever seen, passengers who decline to consent to search at check-in are entitled to a full and unconditional refund, even if their tickets were otherwise entirely nonrefundable -- refusing to consent to search is actually the easiest way to get a refund for such an airline ticket. But there's not yet any such provision in the Amtrak conditions of carriage, making litigation likely.

Bus and taxi passengers, I suppose, will be next. Stay tuned.

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 30 April 2004, 11:38 (11:38 AM) | TrackBack (0)
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