Monday, October 27, 2008

Transportation: Mandatory Idiocy

From a WaPo article, via a Twitterpost from a friend:
Metro officials announced today that they will begin randomly inspecting backpacks, gym bags and any other containers that riders carry with them onto the bus and rail system, in an effort to deter possible terrorist attacks.
I am not excited. I am dismayed and angry.
In the searches, transit police will choose a random number ahead of time, such as 17. Then they will ask every 17th rider step aside and have his or her bags searched before boarding a bus or entering a rail station.
Getting angrier.
Police said the inspections would take between 8 to 10 seconds. Those who refuse will not be allowed to enter the system with their carry-on items but will not be detained.
Who the h*ll do they think they are kidding? 8 to 10 seconds?! Even discounting the fact that they could only do the least effective of searches in such a time, 8 to 10 seconds is not realistic. My bookbag has four compartments. My bike-rack bag has three or five, depending on how you look at it. I know some women's purses to have many, many pockets and compartments. Is the transit police officer going to open every single zipper and clasp? Or just the big one, shake it around a little, and wave the person through?

If they do a thorough search of every 17th person, people won't want to ride the Metro system because it makes them late. If they don't do a thorough search, there will be no point, and people still won't want to ride.

Could this be an attempt to curb ridership, just when Metro's experiencing overcrowding?

Finally, I am certain that the transit officers will not be properly trained to deal with the public in this manner. The same problems people have with the TSA will come up: no comprehension of passenger's rights, troubling abuses of authority, nonsensical assumptions about electrical equipment, and perhaps a ban on liquids?

I might never use Metro again, thanks to this. Even from MD to VA, my bike will be a better option, if these actually get implemented as described.

1 comment:

Audrey said...

First off, most bag searches I've experienced (at museums, stadiums, etc.) take about 4 seconds. They open the largest compartment of your bag, stick their wand/flashlight in, and then send you on your way.

Second, here is a prescription from eminent DCist commenter monkeyrotica: "To avoid suspicion, keep a sock puppet with googly eyes and deely bobbers with you at all times. When approached by Metro security, insist that they address the puppet and not you directly. When pinned to the ground for resisting arrest, make sure you have the puppet scream, 'I AM NOT RESISTING ARREST.'"