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Bus Security Questioned After California Shooting

A California bus shooting that killed one person and wounded another five this week has led some to question if security on U.S. ground transportation is adequate, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.

The incident occurred Monday, 3 February, when a passenger on a Greyhound bus riding on Interstate 5 through Kern County, California, who had been muttering and cursing suddenly opened fire. Witnesses said other passengers disarmed the man after he killed one person and wounded five. A Maryland man was arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder after the incident, according to media reports.

Greyhound told the AP that while it does not use metal detectors at all of its locations, its safety practices are similar to other bus companies. Drivers and terminal employees receive security training.

"An incident of this nature is extremely rare within the bus transportation industry," the company said in a statement issued on Tuesday. "Although uncommon, it does not change the seriousness of what occurred. We are continuing to work closely with local authorities as they complete their investigation."

In the past, some U.S. lawmakers have complained about insufficient federal spending on ground transit security, especially compared with aviation security. For example, in the four years after the 9/11 attacks, one lawmaker estimated that $22 billion was spent on airline security, while less than $550 million was spent on security for buses, trains, subways, and ferries, AP reported.

There's no indication those spending gaps have closed in more recent years, according to the AP. Federal officials have not made a serious policy move toward requiring pat-downs and body scans at all bus and train depots.

More than 30 million Americans use ground transit daily, compared with around 2 million who fly, according to industry estimates. The sheer number of ground transit riders, and the scope of the systems, make it difficult to increase security. For example, according to the American Public Transportation Association, more than 70,000 buses operate on 230,000 miles of U.S. roadways, the said. It would not be feasible to have metal detectors at every stop along a route.

Around the world, few countries have attempted to install security measures that stand a serious chance of thwarting an attack. Israel is one of the exceptions, the AP found. Some Israeli buses are fitted with several different fortified compartments, which limit the deadliness of a bombing or shooting.

In 2018, the ASIS School Safety and Security Council released a white paper on school bus safety.