Contemporary terrorists have made public transportation a new theater of operations. Algerian extremists set off bombs on the subways of Paris in 1995 and 1996; the Irish Republican Army has waged a long running terrorist campaign against Britain’s passenger trains and London’s subways; Palestinian terrorists have carried out suicide bombings on Israel’s buses; and an individualor a group calling itself “Sons of the Gestapo” derailed a passenger train in Arizona in 1995. Islamic extremists planned to set off car bombs in New York’s tunnels and bridges in 1993 and in 1997 they plotted suicide bombings in New York subways. The nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subways by members of the Aum Shinrikyo sect in 1995 raised the specter that terrorists in the future might resort to weapons of mass destruction to which public transportation is uniquely vulnerable. In order to effectively meet the threat posed by terrorism and other forms of violent crime, it is essential that transportation system operators have a thorough understanding of the security measures employed elsewhere, especially by those transportation entities that have suffered terrorist attacks or that confront high threat levels. This volume reports on the first phase of a continuing research effort carried out by the Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for Surface Transportation Policy Studies (IISTPS) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Transportation. It comprises a chronology of attacks on surface transportation systems; four case studies of transportation security measures (in Paris, Atlanta, and New York, and at Amtrak); security surveys of nine additional cities in the United States; and an annotated bibliography of current literature on the topic.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transportation Security/Counterterrorism


Bombings, Crisis management, Derailing, Emergency Communications, Emergency response, Liaison with authorities, Restoration of services, Role of the public, Sabotage, Security, Security organization, Security technology, Threat assessment