- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2010

The Washington-area and New York transit agencies increased security Monday morning, following two suicide blasts that killed 38 in the Moscow subway system.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said teams of officers and bomb-sniffing dogs were conducting random, precautionary sweeps through rail yards and the system’s 86 stations.

In addition, transit police officers will be on “high visibility patrols” throughout the day, according to the agency.

Suicide blasts kill 38 on Moscow subway

“When we opened the Metro system this morning, we did so with heightened security,” said acting Chief Jeri Lee of the Metro Transit Police. “We remain an open system, and we do what we can to be as secure as possible.”

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a “heightened security presence,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz, who declined further comment.

However, the New York Police Department said it was increasing coverage of the subway system as a precaution “in response to the Moscow bombings.”

“That significantly bolstered police coverage at rush hour this morning,” said police spokesman Paul Browne.

Special units distinguished by their black uniforms, helmets and body armor also were assigned to monitor the New York subway system, the busiest in the country.

Boston and Philadelphia transit officials said normal security practices were vigilant enough to protect the riding public.

Russian authorities said two women blew themselves up in Moscow on Monday in a subway jampacked with rush-hour passengers. Officials blamed the carnage on rebels from the Caucasus region.

In Manhattan, where the public has grown accustomed to increased security after the World Trade Center attack, many people said they hadn’t even noticed the added measures.

“I don’t think it poses a threat here now,” said Carlos Rivera, 44, of Newark, N.J., who commutes to New York daily and works in sales.

“Every day, I see the NYPD out here. I see the dogs. I can’t let it affect my life right now,” Mr. Rivera added. “I don’t think about terrorism. I only think about it when I hear about it. Other than that, it never enters my mind.”

The Washington-area subway system — the second biggest in the United States — already had scheduled a drill Monday to practice emergency responses to a bus explosion. This past weekend, Metro conducted a drill that simulated mass casualties in two busy, below-ground subway stations.

Chief Lee said the transit agency “will remain on a heightened state of security at least through the upcoming nuclear security summit scheduled in Washington in a few weeks.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Joseph Weber can be reached at jweber@washingtontimes.com.old.

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