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CTA Fighting Cuts To Federal Transit Security Funds

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A CTA bus approaches a stop. (CBS)

A CTA bus approaches a stop. (CBS)

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UPDATED 05/04/11 6:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Officials believe the death of Osama Bin Laden increases the risk of retaliation from his supporters.

And the greatest threat, according to one influential congressman, is to the nation’s buses and trains, CBS 2′s Jim Williams reports.

Yet, CTA President Richard Rodriguez was in Washington on Wednesday, fighting budget cuts to mass transit security.

Despite talk of cuts, U.S. Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said mass transit is the most vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

“Lone wolves, organized terrorist operations in this country will launch a domestic attack,” he said.

The Chicago area has the second-largest mass transit system in the country, with thousands of trains and buses.

At that House committee hearing in Washington, Rodriguez said proposed federal cuts would stop or delay important security improvements here.

“Neither the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago or the CTA has the resources to support these efforts,” Rodriguez said.

Cuts would threaten projects that include installing more high-definition surveillance cameras. Those cameras not only could keep an eye on would-be terrorists but might have videotaped the robber who shoved an elderly woman to her death at the Fullerton CTA station in March.

“Any thought of reducing what we already receive would be extremely detrimental to our system,” Rodriguez said.

King, a New York Republican, said the federal government has to cut its budget, but reductions in money for mass transit security could lead to tragedy, pointing to terrorist attacks on mass transit systems in London and Madrid.

“Having been to London and Madrid and seeing the terrible damage that was done there by Al Qaeda you realize in some ways how easy it is for terrorists to attack mass transit and how horrific the tragedy is when it occurs,’” he said.

In the 2011 fiscal year, which ends in September, federal funding for transit security upgrades totaled $250 million, according to the American Public Transportation Association. That’s down from $300 million in the year before, APTA said.

Rodriguez said if the federal cuts happen–and the CTA has to spend the same amount of money to maintain its security–it’ll have no choice but to reduce service.

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