The threat of another major terrorist attack in the United States remains high, with the greatest danger coming from local extremists inspired by events in the Middle East. Although the United States removed the Taliban government and destroyed al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan, events in Europe and elsewhere have shown that the terrorist network leadership remains determined to carry out further attacks and is capable of doing so. Therefore, the United States must systematically conduct research on terrorist strikes against transportation targets to distill lessons learned and determine the best practices for deterrence, response, and recovery. Those best practices must be taught to transportation and security professionals to provide secure surface transportation for the nation. Studying recent incidents in Europe and Asia, along with other research, will help leaders in the United States learn valuable lessons—from preventing attacks, to response and recovery, to addressing the psychological impacts of attacks to business continuity. Timely distillations of the lessons learned and best practices developed in other countries, once distributed to law enforcement, first responders, and rail- and subway-operating transit agencies, could result in the saving of American lives. This monograph focuses on the terrorist risks confronting public transportation in the United States—especially urban mass transit—and explores how different forms of passenger screening, and in particular, selective screening, can best be implemented to reduce those risks.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transportation Security/Counterterrorism

MTI Project



Crisis management; Sabotage; Security; Passenger screening; Security measures; Terrorism