Bus and Motor Coach Library

Safety & Security – A White Paper, January 2002

Author – Carmen Daecher (2002)

The safety and security of bus transportation has been questioned by both people within the industry and by those outside the bus industry.  Although most consider it a remote possibility that terrorist activities would target buses in North America, it must be acknowledged that buses in fact have been favorite targets in the Middle East and on other continents.
            Unlike airports that are heavily secured and whose activities are isolated and self-contained within secure and well-defined boundaries, the bus industry operates openly in urban and rural environments, providing wide-ranging passenger services - all of which have ready and easy access by all members of the public. 
            Each type of bus transportation may have different possibilities or potential for terrorist attack.  Transit buses seem most likely for use in attacking urban areas.  Motorcoaches could be used to launch a widespread attack across the country at any point in time.  Attacks on school buses - against our children, might be used to emotionally paralyze and demoralize our country.
            It is virtually impossible to completely eliminate buses as a target for terrorists, or for those with irrational mental behavior that would choose to target a bus vehicle. Many actually consider the latter to be more of a threat than foreign terrorists; to wit, the recent situations involving passenger attacks on scheduled intercity drivers in both Canada and the United States.
            It is however the responsibility of every fleet operator to effectively reduce these possibilities by adopting or modifying a number of procedures within their respective operations.
            Mr. Carmen Daecher, an acknowledged bus industry safety consultant, has kindly permitted us to publish his white paper on industry safety and security.  This report appears almost in its entirety; the idea being that you may detach or copy this report for your files.  It may not be the most glamorous piece of editorial you will read this year, but it is perhaps one of the more important.
            You are urged to acquaint yourself with the contents of this report, and adopt those procedures that you feel can be reasonably and economically incorporated within your operation.   
             It is important for our industry to do what we can to guard against such events occurring within our industry, and which represents a danger to our employees or to our customers.  Here then is this bus industry white paper report.

International terrorist events have redefined our priorities in the realm of safety and security.  For transit, motorcoach, school bus, and other types of commercial bus vehicle operators, this new priority presents some new challenges.  Nevertheless, this challenge must be met.  In considering bus operations, one must begin to plan for security response at three levels:

- Attacks upon the equipment to cripple our ability to transport people
- Attacks upon equipment and passengers
- The use of equipment, with or without passengers, to attack larger targets such as national monuments, transportation infrastructure, and so on.

In order to develop a security program to combat such efforts, a systematic approach to developing procedures, implementing technology, and hiring and training the appropriate people is required. This systematic approach should be centered on two critical organizational points:

- Who handles, touches, or has access to abus or  motorcoach during any 24 hour period
- How a bus or motorcoach is used and the current procedures for its movement from one point to many other points during the course of a day

What makes this process so difficult is that most of us are not oriented toward thinking, and in fact cannot even grasp or comprehend how a terrorist thinks.  For this reason we must develop a program based on an analytical and systematic basis, and not on an emotional or subjective level.
However, once a systematic plan has been reached detailing the necessary procedures, then it should be reviewed and its viability analyzed by trying to think like a third party twisted and hateful mind would think, and how such a mind might think of ways to possibly breach your security plan.
The following checklist is an initial attempt to develop systematic thinking toward effective security programs for all bus operations.  In order to begin, a brief description of bus movement is as follows:
-  Sits at rest in the company yard
-  Moves into the maintenance area for work
-  Moves into the bus wash area for cleaning
-  Moves onto the street and from point to point based upon predefined schedules or itineraries
- Returns to the yard and sits or is parked and put at rest at a remote location during the course of an extended trip or itinerary
- Inspection by Commercial Vehicle Inspectors at undefined and undetermined locations

The people who would most likely operate or interact with the bus during the course of a day are: 

Drivers   Mechanics     Bus washers   Passengers   Commercial vehicle inspectors

            The first most basic element in defining an effective security program is to identify bus locations or activities during the course of a typical day, or multi-days in the case of long hauls, and to define those people who will interact with that bus on a daily basis.  If you do not do this, significant leaks and gaps in your security plan can exist.

Based upon the above bus activities and people interacting with buses, the following is a list for security program development:

The Bus Vehicle

1) Minimize/remove and keep to a minimum any interior compartments for storage or access to bus systems.  This does not include overhead bins, but compartments for access into the front structure of the bus, compartments in the restroom for plumbing, etc. must be eliminated as much as possible.  This is vitally important in the restroom area.  No compartments or access areas should be in the restroom.  The only openings should be in the toilet and the sink.  Nothing below the sink or within the walls of the restroom should provide any hiding places.

2) Video cameras with a 48 hour video life should be considered for video taping all passengers as they enter and leave the bus.  These cameras should not be known or easily seen by anyone. 

3) Fire extinguishers should have a unique and definable marking, whether it is on the casing or an additional tag, to insure the driver or any other person inspecting it that it is a bonafide and usable fire extinguisher.  By providing an identifiable mark, such extinguishers can not be replaced with similar looking encasements which may contain explosive materials. 

4) All necessary compartments which remain on the interior of the bus should be locked and sealed.                                                 

5) All compartments on the exterior of the bus (engine, luggage, batteries, etc.) should be equipped with a tamper proof lock and electronic means of surveillance to determine if these locks have been opened while the bus was in a secure shut down mode.

6) Each bus should have an engine kill switch which is operable not only from the driver's compartment but from a remote location.  This will require electronic operation and cell or satellite communication.

7) Each bus should have a silent communication/emergency capability.

8) Buses should have vehicle location systems (cell/satellite locators) to know a bus unit’s actual location at any time from dispatch or some other centralized location.

9) Restrooms should be equipped with sensors to alert drivers if anyone is tampering with toilets, sinks, etc.

10) Signs and warnings prohibiting guns, knives, scissors, etc. should be posted at the entry of the bus.

Drivers, Mechanics, Bus Washers, Other Staff:

11) Drivers and Mechanics should have a current license for at least three years.

12) Pertinent staff members – drivers, mechanics, bus washers should not have multiple home addresses.

13) Pertinent staff members should provide five personal references.  These references must be contacted for verification of personal identity and as an expanded personal reference check.  All five references can not be immigrants or citizens of a foreign country.

14) Use security wands for screening of luggage at remote points to identify the presence of large metal objects and to determine their relative safety during transport.  Alternatively, train drivers and require drivers to check all luggage before it is put into the luggage compartment.  Inform all drivers that a policy of the company is to inspect all luggage before it is brought on board.  Make sure drivers know what to look for and how to identify it.

Procedures and Training

15) Any time an interior compartment is accessed by a mechanic or any other employee, another employee must inspect the interior compartment, reseal it, and sign off.  Documentation should be required to show the employee who accessed the compartment and the employee who inspected and resealed.

16) Regular inspections of fire extinguishers with initials or sign-offs by those who inspected them should be documented and records kept at the company's facility.  These records should be kept for at least five years.

17) Pre-trip inspections must be enhanced.  They also must be done thoroughly on a daily basis by all drivers.  Thorough inspections looking underneath the bus for suspicious items attached to the structure is important.  A thorough inspection of each compartment with the bus in a shut down and secure inspection mode must be done.  Each compartment must be re-locked or sealed. 

18) A means of inspecting the roof of the bus during pre-trip inspections is important.  If alternative fuels (LNG, CNG) is employed, this is even more important. 

19) Call-in procedures must be enhanced to insure control of the vehicle by the driver and vehicle location.  On a regular time basis (such as two hours) every driver must call in and confirm their exact location and operating conditions.  During this call-in, any suspicious activities, passengers, etc. should be noted.  This protocol should be in place and never violated.  If a driver misses a scheduled call-in, dispatchers must attempt to communicate with the driver and, if that fails, communicate with police to confirm bus location and operations.

20) Develop a communication protocol for any emergency response related to suspicious passengers or hijack/terrorist situations.  Make sure all people involved in the communication process are trained and prepared for deployment of the process if and when necessary.

21) Listing of all passengers on charter/tours should be required.  These lists should be kept for at least five years.  Positive photo identification should be required at the beginning of each charter/tour.

22) Listing of passengers on line runs should be acquired at the terminal or at stops along route.  This listing should employ the use of positive photo ID identification, after which terminal employees or drivers will list on a daily passenger manifest the name of each passenger and their boarding location.  These lists should be kept for five years.

23) Training should be provided to all drivers concerning management of hostile passengers.  This training should emphasize appropriate communication techniques and appropriate emergency action protocols that should be employed by drivers under hijacking/terrorist situations (and for less urgent passenger management situations).

24) If such lists are available, drivers should have watch lists of the names of suspected subversives or terrorists to compare to passenger lists.  Appropriate communication protocols should be in place for drivers if they suspect that a passenger or passengers boarding the bus is wanted or is on a watch list.  This would require that drivers carry cell phones on their persons while outside of the bus to make discrete communication with dispatch or other appropriate agencies as necessary. 

25) The availability of on-board weapons for driver response might be considered.  However, this is an extremely volatile item which requires much more consideration before it is implemented.  While it must be considered, it is not advocated for use at this time.

26) Develop a "once in - once out" protocol for luggage stored in the luggage compartments during the course of a day.

27) When a driver retires a bus at the end of the day, the bus must be in a secure/alert status so that if any compartments are tampered with, it will be known upon inspection by the next driver or employee.  These systems should be capable of communication from remote locations such as central dispatch so that the monitoring of this security can be done spontaneously, randomly, and from a remote point to maximize security.

28) When vehicles are not stored overnight at company facilities, vehicles should be parked in well-lit areas.  They should not be parked alone in unsecured areas.  Visibility and activity associated with numbers of vehicles is an important security factor.


29) LNG/CNG fueling locations must be kept completely secure.  Documentation of entry must be used, defining who, when, and for how long anyone entered the fuel storage location. 

30) Post in all terminals or other locations where passengers purchase tickets and wait to board that all guns, knives, scissors, etc. are prohibited from being on board, and that such weapons or items must be announced in advance, even for storage in luggage which will be in the luggage compartment.

31) At terminals, luggage should be checked, either with the use of scanning machines, individual wand devices, or by hand.

32) Employ bomb-sniffing animals for luggage and passenger checks at terminals and other passenger collection points.

            An important section of this white paper report not appearing in this editorial relates to the importance of procedures and protocols that the various federal and state/provincial jurisdictions should put into place to complement and make more complete the safety and security of the bus industry. 
            These protocols mostly center on stricter adherence to already existing regulations, particularly in the area of licensing bus fleets and bus vehicles, more thorough background checks, and with more accurate and complete government record-keeping policies. 
            Mr. Carmen Daecher has made this portion of governmental responsibilities of this white paper available to the appropriate authorities in both Canada and the United States.