Ferry Passengers to be Screened for Explosives

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, in partnership with Golden Gate Ferry will begin testing advanced explosives detection technology today as part of the Secure Automated Inspection Lanes (SAIL) project. The 30-day pilot program will conduct explosives screening on passengers boarding ferries at the Golden Gate Ferry terminals in Larkspur, Calif., and will move to the San Francisco terminal in September. SAIL’s purpose is to test the feasibility of using new technologies while maintaining efficient passenger screening systems for high volume commuter ferries.

“Deploying and testing explosives detection technology at port facilities allows us to follow through on our commitment to aggressively enhance security throughout the entire transportation network,” said Ed Gomez, Western Area Director for TSA. “This new phase of the SAIL program addresses the screening of passengers, the importance of which has been underlined by recent world events.”

The SAIL pilot program uses document scanners and other explosives detection equipment to screen passengers. The tests will be conducted Monday through Friday, starting with off-peak departures, and expanding to include commuter trips during rush hour.

Prior to boarding, passengers will be handed a card that explains the program and can capture explosive material. The card will be handed back to a TSA screener who will scan the card and analyze it for explosive material using the detection equipment. If the card shows the presence of explosive material, the passenger will undergo secondary screening; the cards will then be destroyed in the presence of the passenger.

“The Coast Guard is excited about working with TSA and Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District on this important effort to improve port security," said Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area. "We expect to gather a wealth of information from this test.”

According to Maureen Middlebrook, President of the Board of Directors, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, “We are exceedingly proud to be the first public commuter ferry operation in the United States to be selected for TSA’s SAIL program. Testing passenger screening technologies for potential use during times of heightened alerts is essential for the future of ferry passenger security.”

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