Airports, train and bus stations are natural targets for terrorists. They're open to the public, and they draw lots of people at predictable times. The hearing could affect the amount of money BART and other agencies get to improve security.
"Clearly, if you're talking about potential targets, no one is more of a potential target than mass transit systems," said Rep. Peter King (R) New York.
Deputy BART Police Chief Dan Hartwig was one of the mass transit professionals testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security Wednesday. He said 350,000 people ride BART daily -- a tempting terrorist target. Special events like the Giants World Series parade can draw half a million riders -- making it even more tempting.
"The presence of large crowds traveling through BART facilities for special events, such as the Giants celebration presents a predictable target rich environment and magnifies the risk and consequences of a terror attack that transportation systems face daily," said Hartwig.
Transportation officials and some members of Congress are trying to make sure that security help and money from the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA keeps flowing to transit agencies -- even as Washington looks for ways to make massive budget cuts.
"I fear that we would cease to exist and cease to provide the level of security we already have," said Hartwig.
"We cannot achieve false economies by cutting in areas that lead to a loss of human life, and encourage our enemies especially now in the wake of bin Laden's death," said King.
Hartwig said his agency needed $250 million to beef up security after 9/11. Since state and local governments don't have it, they have to get it from the feds or forget it.