by Jason Williams
Mel Zucker of the Oregon Transportation Institute never believed the hype about a public demand to build a light rail from Hillsboro to Forest Grove and people wanting a train from Beaverton to Wilsonville. Zucker called Tri-Met for the ridership data to see if the thriving metropolis of Forest Grove was truly flooding our transit system and in need of their own light rail gift from taxpayers. Tri-Met said it could not release such data and referred him to their legal council. This was a surprise to Zucker who says that Tri-Met usually is always more than helpful in public requests.
Legal council said they were acting at the request of Oregon’s Homeland Security Office based in Salem. A call to the office revealed that they would not allow ridership data to be public because terrorist might use it. The fear is that if terrorist knew when people use mass transit the most, they would detonate a bomb during that time. It was told that this decision was part of a higher national policy. Zucker who has transportation experts across the county was unable to find any other state that censored public transit data. A few lawmakers are looking into the matter to see if they can obtain the data (or should I say more accurately get access to top secret files that will imperil the lives of millions of transit riders coming out of the terrorist hot target city of Forest Grove).
This type of over-reaching hinders in the real effort to fight terrorism while balancing civil liberties.