Jean-Paul Rodrigue (2013), New York:
Routledge, 416 pages.
Transport Safety and Security
Author: Dr. Brian Slack and Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
1. A New Context in Transport Security
While issues of safety and security have been before transport planners
and managers for many years, it is only recently that physical security
has become an over-riding issue. Over this, an important nuance must
be provided between criminal activities and terrorism. While both seek
to exploit the security weaknesses of transportation, they do so for
very different reasons. Terrorism is at start a symbolic activity
seeking forms of destruction and disruption to coerce a political or
religious agenda. In this context, transportation is mostly a
target. Criminal activities are seeking an economic return from
illegal transactions such as drugs, weapons, piracy and illegal
immigration. In this context, transportation is mostly a vector
for illegal transactions. Concerns were already being raised
in the past, but the tragic events of 9/11 thrust the issue
of physical security into public domain as never before and set in motion
responses that are re-shaping transportation in unforeseen ways. In
addition, threats to health, such as the
spread of pandemics,
present significant challenges to transport planning and operations.
Because of the nature of transport systems, safety and security issue
concerns the modes and the terminals. Each involves a different set of
As locations where passengers and freight are assembled and dispersed,
terminals have particularly been a focus of concern about security and
safety. Because railway stations and airports are some of the most densely
populated sites anywhere, crowd control and safety have been issues
that have preoccupied managers for a long time. Access is monitored
and controlled, and movements are channeled along pathways that provide
safe access to and from platforms and gates. In the freight industry
security concerns have been directed in two areas: worker safety
and theft. Traditionally, freight terminals have been dangerous
work places. With heavy goods being moved around yards and loaded onto
vehicles using large mobile machines or manually, accidents are systemic.
Significant improvements have been made over the years, through worker
education and better organization of operations, but freight terminals
are still comparatively hazardous. The issue of
thefts has been one
of the most severe problems confronting all types of freight terminals,
especially where high value goods are being handled. Docks in particular,
have been seen as places where organized crime has established control
over local labor unions. Over the years access to freight terminals
has been increasingly restricted, and the deployment of security personnel
has helped control thefts somewhat.
In light of the emergence of global supply chains the emphasis
in freight transport security is gradually shifting into a more comprehensive
but complex approach including several dimensions and potential measures:
The expected outcomes of these measures include:
- Dimensions. Particularly
concern the integrity of the cargo, the route and the information
systems managing the supply chain.
- Measures. The set
of procedures that can be implemented to maintain the integrity
of the cargo, namely inspections, the security of facilities and
personnel as well as of the data.
Still, in spite of the qualitative benefits, the setting and
implementation of security measures come at a cost that must be
assumed by the shippers and eventually by the consumers. It has been
estimated that an increase of 1% in the costs of trading
internationally would cause a decrease in trade flows of in the
range of 2 to 3%. Security based measures could increase total costs
between 1% and 3%. Additionally, the impacts are not uniformly
assumed as developing countries, particularly export-oriented
economies, tend to have higher transport costs. Security measures
can affect them in a greater fashion.
2. Physical Security of Passengers
Airports have been the focus of security concerns for many decades.
High-jacking aircraft came to the fore in the 1970s, when terrorist
groups in the Middle East exploited the lack of security to commandeer
planes for ransom and publicity. Refugees fleeing dictatorships also
found taking over aircraft a possible route to freedom. In response,
the airline industry and the international regulatory body, ICAO, established
screening procedures for passengers and bags. This process seems
to have worked in the short run at least, with reductions in hijackings,
although terrorists changed their tactics by placing bombs in un-accompanied
luggage and packages, as for example in the Air India crash off Ireland
in 1985 and the Lockerbie, Scotland, crash of Pan Am 103 in 1988.
The growth in passenger traffic and the development of hub and spoke
networks placed a great deal of strain on the security process. There
were wide disparities in the effectiveness of passenger screening
at different airports, and because passengers were being routed by hubs,
the numbers of passengers in transit through the hub airports grew significantly.
Concerns were being raised by some security experts, but the costs of
improving screening and the need to process ever larger numbers of passengers
and maintain flight schedules caused most carriers to oppose tighter
The situation was changed irrevocably by the
events of September 11, 2001.
The US government created the Department of Homeland Security which
in turn established a Transportation Security Authority (TSA) to oversee
the imposition of strict new security measures on the industry. Security
involves many steps, from restricting access to airport facilities,
fortifying cockpits, to the more extensive security screening of passengers.
Screening now involves more rigorous inspections of passengers and their
baggage at airports. For foreign nationals inspection employs biometric
identification, which at present involves checking fingerprints, but
in the future may include retinal scans and facial pattern recognition.
A new system, the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, (CAPPS
II), requiring more personal information from travelers when they book
their flights, which is used to provide a risk assessment of each passenger.
Passengers considered as high risk are further screened.
The imposition of these measures has come at a considerable cost. A significant factor has been the integration
of screeners into the federal workforce, with important increases in
salaries and training costs. The purchase of improved screening machines
and the re-designing of airport security procedures have been important
cost additions. These measures have also had a major influence on passenger
throughputs. Clearing security has become the most important source
of delays in the passenger boarding process. Passengers are now expected
to arrive 2 hours before departure at the terminal in order to clear
Security issues have had a negative effect on the air transport industry
as costs increased with delays and inconveniences
to passengers increasing as well. Business travel, the most lucrative sub-market
for the regular airlines, has been negatively impacted.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that these passengers are switching to other
modes for shorter trips so as to avoid the time delays and aggravation
caused by the security process and to executive jets for longer trips.
Another unintended consequence was observed at several large American
airports concerning freight operations. The imposition of visas for
transiting passengers resulted in a significant drop of connecting
flights using an American airport as an international hub and with this
the drop of cargo carried in the bellyhold of planes.
Security in the freight industry has always been a major problem.
Illegal immigrants, drug smuggling,
custom duty evasion,
and the deployment of sub-standard vessels (higher propensity to
accidents) have been some of the most
important concerns. However, as in the air passenger business, the events
of 9/11 highlighted a new set of security issues. The scale and scope
of these problems in freight is of an even greater magnitude. The
less regulated and greater international dimensions of the
shipping industry in particular have made it a vulnerable to security
breaches. The large number of ports, the vast fleet of global
shipping and the range of products carried in vessels, and the difficulty
of detection has made the issue of security in shipping an extremely
difficult one to address. For ports, vulnerabilities (unauthorized
access to cargo and facilities) can both be exploited from the land side
as well as on the maritime side. The container, which has greatly facilitated
globalization, makes it extremely difficult to identify illicit and/or
dangerous cargoes. In the absence of scanners that can scan the entire
box, manual inspection becomes a time consuming and virtually impossible
task considering the large volumes involved. Hubbing compounds
the problem, as large numbers of containers are required to be handled
with minimum delays and inconvenience.
In the US the response was to enact the Maritime Transportation and
Security Act in 2002. The basic elements of this legislation were adopted
by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in December 2002 as
the International Ship and Port Security code (ISPS). There are three
important features of these interventions. First, is the requirement
of an Automated Identity System (AIS) for all vessels between
300 and 50,000 dwt. AIS requires vessels to have a permanently marked
and visible identity number, and there must be a record maintained of
its flag, port of registry and address of the registered owner. Second,
each port must undertake a security assessment. This involves
an assessment of its assets and facilities and an assessment of the
effects of damages that might be caused. The port must then evaluate
the risks, and identify its weaknesses to its physical security, communication
systems, utilities etc. Third, is that all cargoes destined for the
US must receive customs clearance prior to the departure of the ship.
In addition, it is proposed that biometric identification for seafarers
to be implemented and that national databases of sailors to be maintained.
The ISPS code is being implemented in ports around the world. Without
certification, a port would have difficulty in trading with the US.
Security is thus becoming a factor in a port’s competitiveness.
The need to comply with ISPS has become an urgent issue in ports large
and small around the world. The costs of securing sites, of undertaking
risk assessments, and of monitoring ships all represent an additional
cost of doing business, without any commercial return. US ports have
been able to tap funding from the Department of Homeland Security, but
foreign ports have to comply or risk the loss of business. In 2008 legislation
in the US required that all containers being shipped to the US to undergo
screening. Foreign ports will be expected to purchase very expensive
gamma-ray and x-ray scanners, and undertake screening of all US-bound containers,
regardless of the degree of security threat. This is a further financial
and operational headache foreign ports have to contend with. Security
has become an additional element in determining competitive advantage.
Like its passengers counterpart, the airline freight industry is
facing stringent security requirements. Since 2010 a new TSA regulation
forces the screening of all cargo by carried by air within the United
States or internationally and this before being loaded. The Certified
Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) force airlines, freight forwarders
and shippers to assume the costs of these security measures in an attempt
to establish a secure air freight transport chain. This measure comes
at difficult times for the air cargo industry which is already dealing
with higher energy costs and weak demand. It will likely involve additional costs, delays
and disruptions, undermining the competitiveness of air cargo. Already,
several freight forwarders are considering maritime shipping instead
of air cargo for long distance trade or the unusual combination of air
and maritime shipping.
- Reduced risk of disruptions of trade in response to security
- Improved security against theft and diversion of cargo, with
reductions in direct losses (cargo and sometime the vehicle) and indirect costs
(e.g. higher insurance premiums).
- Improved security against illegal transport of black market
goods such counterfeits, narcotics and weapons, and of persons.
- Reduced risk of evasion of duties and taxes.
- Increased confidence in the international trading systems by current
shippers of goods.
- Improved screening process (cost and time) and simplified procedures.