Area transit not flinching in wake of India bombings

In the wake of terror attacks that claimed more than 160 lives on commuter trains in Mumbai, India, security on the Bay Area’s transit and bridges has not been markedly, or at least publicly, increased.

The federal Department of Homeland Security did not raise the terror alert level, so most local agencies said they were reminding employees to be vigilant, but have not necessarily committed extra resources to increased security as a result of the bombings in India.

Just after 5 p.m. Tuesday, local time, eight bombs exploded on commuter trains in Mumbai, India. No group had taken responsibility for the attack as of press time, and investigators had yet to name a suspect.

In a statement issued Tuesday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said, “There are no plans to raise the nation’s threat level as a result of this atrociousact. We will work with individual transit agencies that may choose to increase their vigilance, as a matter of prudence, at this time. More generally, we continue to strengthen mass transit security throughout the country.”

Bay Area Rapid Transit district spokesman Linton Johnson said Tuesday that the agency had beefed up its security a year ago in the wake of the July 7 bombings on the London Underground. They again increased security measures Friday, the anniversary of those bombings. Those measures remain in place and did not change Tuesday.

Other agencies, including Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transit, have remained in a heightened state of alert since Sept. 11, 2001.

“When something like that happens everyone else is reminded. There is an assumption somehow that people in our business have forgotten about it but that is not the case,” San Francisco Municipal Transit Administration spokeswoman Maggie Lynch said Tuesday.

The California Highway Patrol, which provides security on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, would not comment on whether it had increased security Tuesday, but said it remains vigilant. Spokeswoman Fran Clader said the agency doesn't make security specifics public because “we don’t want the bad guys to know whether we fluctuate our security posture and what would cause that.”

But elsewhere in the country, municipalities reinforced their transit security.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which provides security for the Metro transit system, reassigned personnel from other duties to the Metro on Tuesday for the sake of higher visibility, Capt. Jacques LaBerge said. New York City sent hundreds of its police officers to patrol the subway and conduct random bag searches there.

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