- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

Metro announced yesterday that it will remove all newspaper boxes inside its 83 subway stations within two weeks to increase security.
"We are taking these added precautions to increase security with an eye toward the safety of our customers," Metro General Manager Richard A. White said in a statement.
All 124 newspaper boxes next to the fare-card machines inside the stations were locked earlier in the week, Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. Metro riders still can purchase newspapers from vending boxes outside the subway stations.
"Here is a place where someone can put in a quarter and remove a newspaper or put in a quarter and place a harmful device," Miss Farbstein said.
Metro also is moving bicycle lockers farther from the subway system's rights-of-way and from underneath bridges with rail tracks, she said.
Metro already has removed trash cans and recycling bins from its stations to prevent explosives or biological or chemical weapons from being placed inside the containers.
Officials have said that passengers first asked for the bins to be removed, but recent complaints have called for their reinstalling because of the trash that now mars the stations.
Metro sources said security personnel want to minimize the risk of an explosive device being planted in the newspaper boxes or a biological or chemical agent being placed in newspapers and then spread in the crowded stations. Metro averages 600,000 trips a day on its subway.
Metro Transit Police Chief Barry J. McDevitt said in a statement that the removal of the newspaper boxes and bicycle lockers is part of the increased security precautions that must be taken in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"This is a natural next step," Chief McDevitt said. "Other precautions and security enhancement are not as visible and are designed to be this way the removal [of the boxes and lockers] are noticeable changes."
Arthur Farber, circulation director for The Washington Times, said he did not know until yesterday that the boxes were being removed, adding that he was told in an Oct. 10 letter that the boxes were to be boarded up, not removed.
"While we lost visibility, it doesn't hurt us significantly," Mr. Farber said, noting that 70 percent to 80 percent of the sales those machines have generated has been recouped by sales from machines outside the stations.
Circulation managers for the other publications affected by the move The Washington Post and Gannett, owner of USA Today and Baseball Weekly did not return phone calls seeking comment.


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