On the Road with Public Transit Security Ⅰ

On the Road with Public Transit Security Ⅰ

As cities grow, public transit has boomed as well. Keeping people and assets safe, while keeping threats out, is the goal of transit authorities. Each year, roughly a billion passengers take the London Underground, making it one of the largest transit systems in the world. Across the Atlantic, the New York City subway system carries 1.6 billion passengers annually, while Tokyo's system serves 3.1 billion. China plans to break ground on 17 rapid transit systems, making public transit a dynamic market. Buses serve even more people, with service in locations where there are no railways. From private minibuses to large coaches, buses offer great reach over large distances. Public transit buses efficiently transport large numbers of passengers, keeping more cars off the road and reducing pollution. However, increased ridership makes public-transit systems high-profile targets. Deliberate acts of terrorism include remotely triggered bombs and suicide bombers.

Chemical or biological agents which are airborne are a real threat in enclosed and crowded stations. While it is impossible to prevent every attack, security aims to contain and limit the damage. Transit systems also deal with everyday threats, from physical assaults to sexual harassment that take place while the vehicle is in motion. Video recording helps victims gather evidence, with more equipment being installed onboard buses and trains. At the end of the day, technology can only go so far. It requires effective communication between all stakeholders to ensure public transit runs smoothly.

The urban landscape has become an indispensable part of daily life, with more people living and working in cities. As cities are densely packed, taking to the streets by foot is not always feasible. Public transit moves people efficiently, beginning with the London Underground's subway service in 1863 and public buses later on. Commuting reduces carbon emissions, making public transitan urban staple throughout the world.

Despite the soft global economy, the public transit market was relatively immune to its ill effects. Frost & Sullivan found the mobile video market for transit buses, police vehicles and rail was worth US$615.4 million in 2008 and will reach $1.55 billion by 2015. “Video as evidence provides higher safety for passengers and better accountability for transit authorities by minimizing false liability claims,” said Archana Rao, Senior Research Analyst for Frost & Sullivan. “The ability of these solutions to improve operational efficiency apart from providing safety and security will ensure a steady stream of investments in the market.”

However, as government budgets have shrunk, adoption may be slow. Low awareness of benefits in developing countries and price sensitivity mean systems must prove their value, Rao said.

Rapid transit systems are in more than 160 cities, with at least 25 systems under construction. China leads growth, being home to 17 of the new 25 systems . Surveillance onboard buses is booming, with a million cameras installed on buses in Guangdong province in 2009. Similar video rollouts are planned in other major cities throughout China, making public transit a hot market for 2011.

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