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MBTA Security Inspections

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The MBTA has been conducting random security inspections regularly since October 2006. Passengers are selected on a random basis through the use of a computer generated sequence of numbers. These inspections involve the brushing, with a swab, of the exterior of a carry-on.  This swab is then placed in explosive trace detection equipment.   The entire process should take approximately 10-20 seconds if no positive reading occurs.  There are notices posted at the entrance to the station that the inspection is in progress.  A passenger may choose not to be inspected but then is prohibited from riding on the MBTA.  Through a cooperative partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), TSA personnel assist us at some of the inspection sites. Their authority to assist is derived from 49 U.S.C. § 114(d). Pub.L. 107-71 (Full Text -.pdf)

These inspections are part of an overall layered strategy to deter and prevent a terrorist attack on our transit system.   In American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, 2004 U.S. Dist LEXIS 14345 [D.Ma 2004] and in MacWade v. Kelly 460 F3d 260 (2d Cir. 2006) two separate courts upheld these types of inspections.   The MacWade case involved the physical searching of carry-on items and was upheld by the court.

Security Inspection Sign  



MBTA Transit Police Department 
240 Southampton Street
Boston, MA 02118

Office of the Chief:
Deaf or Hard of Hearing: 
617-222-1200 TTY

TEXT Line 873-873

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