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Mineta: System 'safe' and 'secure'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said Monday the nation's transportation system is "safe" and "secure," even though he conceded it remained vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Mineta was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early Monday morning to speak to the American Public Transportation Association. He rode Amtrak -- the nation's largest passenger rail service -- to show his support for the nation's railways.

Speaking with the news media on the train ride from Washington to Philadelphia, Mineta said transportation security has been increased since last month's terrorist attacks.

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"Since September 11th's cowardly attacks by the terrorists, there has been a great deal of attention on aviation," he said. "Our Department of Transportation responsibility, of course, is all modes, whether it be rail, ports or highways." Mineta stressed that he believes it is safe to fly as well as ride the nation's trains.

"What we are looking for is those vulnerable spots, but we feel confident that given all of the local law enforcement working with the rail enforcement people that rail is a safe mode of travel," he said.

Mineta cited the freight rail system as one area of concern. "The hazardous materials part of the freight rail operations is always the most sensitive," said Mineta, but emphasized that security has been tightened in the wake of the attacks.

On the issue of curbside check-in, Mineta said it will be allowed on a selective basis, based on available equipment and explosive detection systems at individual airports. Mineta said long lines at the ticket counter can be alleviated if curbside check-in can be done safely.

Mineta said he believes that Reagan National Airport just outside the nation's capital would re-open, but he did not offer any specifics.

"The president will make that announcement, and I think he recognizes the importance of Ronald Reagan Airport, and I think he will make that decision on a timely basis," Mineta said.

In Philadelphia, Mineta spoke to about 2,000 transportation officials during an annual meeting and asked for suggestions and recommendations on how to improve security.


• U.S. Department of Transportation

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