TSA and L.A. Metro partner to provide advanced passenger screening system

How the passenger screening looks on a computer screen.

Photo: LA Metro.

Another view, from L.A. Times transportation reporter Laura Nelson:

A media event was held today at Union Station. Here is the news release from Metro and the TSA:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has partnered with Metro to deploy a new advanced portable passenger screening technology that will help detect weapon and explosive device security threats on the county’s transit system.

Metro is the first surface transportation agency in the nation to purchase such an advanced, high-tech security device to help keep transit riders safe from person-borne improvised explosive devices or other weapons that are intended to cause mass casualties.

Following a series of tests over the last year of TSA-vetted and approved security technologies at its stations, Metro has purchased several Thruvision TAC-TS4

portable terahertz millimeter wave passenger screening devices. The units can be placed at locations throughout the Metro system and are equipped with software that quickly and unobtrusively screens individuals for concealed threats. The units can identify both metallic and non-metallic objects.

Metro CEO Phil Washington at today’s media event. Photos: LA Metro.

The devices identify objects that block the naturally-occurring waves produced by a person’s body. When an object is hidden in clothing or strapped to a person, these waves are blocked and detected by the system’s software. The software generates generic avatars and creates either a black spot on the area of the body where the item is concealed or overlays a color indicator. The technology does not emit radiation of any kind and no anatomical details are displayed. The device allows law enforcement agents and Metro Security to screen rail and bus patrons without disrupting foot traffic and to take decisive, pre-emptive action if suspicious items are found. 

“TSA applauds the leadership of L.A. Metro for its proactive efforts to evaluate, procure and use state-of-the-art technology designed to detect potential threats to the transit system,” said TSA Administrator Pekoske. “TSA is pleased to have been a partner during the evaluation and testing process, which ultimately led to the purchase of a recommended system to help detect and deter potential acts of terrorism while keeping the traveling public safe.”

The Thruvision technology was tested extensively by TSA. Metro tested the technology at its 7th Street/Metro Center Station over the last year.

“Metro has been an industry leader in testing new technologies to meet the evolving threat to our nation’s public transportation infrastructure,” said Sheila Kuehl, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair. “This new technology will augment our aggressive safety and security posture and help us proactively deter potential attacks to our system.”

For additional information about Metro’s Safety and Security Program, visit www.metro.net/safety. For more photos, please click here. Here is video from the press event: 

Categories: Policy & Funding, Projects

42 replies

  1. I thought we were trying to increase transit ridership, not driving it down even further by making a trip on the Red Line similar to going to the airport. Looks like I will be driving more in the future.

  2. Great, tell the terrorists what type of technology you are using. That way they know what to do. There are several ways to defeat this system.

  3. Concern 1 – That doesn’t look like it’s creating a ‘generic cartoon avatar’ at all. The green image is the actual outline of the person. If you pointed that at a person from the side instead of from the front, you’d get to see all of the…curves… of their body. If someone walks closely in front of the camera instead of far away like in the images shown here, it will be even worse. This doesn’t look like it actually has any privacy protection AT ALL.

    Concern 2 – What do you do about people who are carrying a purse/messenger bag/backpack? That entire bag will look like a ‘black blob’ to this scanner. Are you going to start searching people’s bags too?

    Concern 3 – Why is Metro even listening to the TSA on this process in the first place? They spent $160 million on body scanners for airports, yet they have a 70-96% failure rate in actually detecting things at their checkpoints during independent challenge testing. One of their scanner venders, Rapiscan, lied about if their scanners could store images (said they didn’t but they did) and the TSA had to remove all those scanners from airports.

    This seems like a giant waste of my tax dollars, is possibly a privacy invasion given the way the system is working in the screenshots shown in this post, and is unlikely to actually make anyone more secure. More military-police-industrial complex bullshit.

    Is anyone at “Thruvision” a former TSA or Metro employee, or a family member of a current TSA or Metro employee???

  4. How much Measure M money that I voted for, expecting it would be used to build a transit system is going to be blown on some ridiculous security theater nonsense? Terrorism my fat butt.

  5. This is a waste of money and resources, which would be better spent on ensuring more patrols of stations and trains. Instead, LA County Metro decides that invasive body scanners are the way forward. And these machines are operated by the TSA, the federal agency with a 95% failure rate, to which they only recently improved to a whopping 70% failure rate.

    Transit riders are not worried about attacks on the subway system, they are worried for their personal safety when there is no security personnel aboard to report activity to, especially at night. Metro would be wise to spend the money they are wasting on this project to more patrol contracts with local police departments and the Sheriff’s Department.

  6. I endorse the negative comments above. Personally, I will avoid stations that have this technology.

  7. This is the very definition of an unreasonable search. The TSA is overstepping its bounds. What happens when they take over everything? We’ll have no more liberty. If the only way to stop this invasion is to shut them down, then SHUT THEM DOWN.

  8. Is the coins or the keys or the jewlries or the metal watch or the metal part of a belt or a cellphone going to be suspected as a weapon? And is this equitment going to damage the chip of tap cards and get the patrons unable to validate their own cards forever?

  9. This is unconstitutional, and I wholeheartedly agree with the comment above that a key worry is for personal safety, especially at night. More police staffing, and training to de-escalate tense situations would be a better use of taxpayer funds.

    If metro managerial staff were forced to rely on the system they manage as their sole means of transportation, they would approach many issues differently.

  10. […]  米国のロサンゼルス郡都市交通局(Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority:LA METRO)は、鉄道やバスの利用客をテラヘルツ波(ミリ波)でスキャンし、衣服の下に隠されている武器や爆発物を発見するセキュリティシステム「Thruvision TAC-TS4」を導入すると発表した。歩いている人を離れた場所からスキャン可能なため、混雑する駅などでも人の流れを妨げずスムーズに検査できる。 […]