Exploring the Effectiveness of Transit Security Awareness Campaigns in the San Francisco Bay Area

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Exploring the Effectiveness of Transit Security Awareness Campaigns in the San Francisco Bay Area


Public involvement in alerting officials of suspicious and potentially harmful activity is critical to the overall security of a transit system. As part of an effort to get passengers and the public involved, many transit agencies have security awareness campaigns. The objective of this research is to learn how transit agencies seek to make security awareness campaigns effective and explore how they measure the effectiveness of such campaigns, if at all.

This research project includes data from case studies of five major agencies that provide transit service in the San Francisco Bay Area region. The case study data are comprised of descriptions of the types of security awareness campaigns the agencies have implemented, the goals of the campaigns, and how they seek to make their campaigns effective, as well as whether and how these agencies measure and determine the effectiveness of their campaigns.

A positive finding of this research is the consistency with which Bay Area transit organizations address the need for passenger awareness as part of their overall security program. However, none of the five agencies analyzed for this study measures the effectiveness of their campaigns. Whereas they all have a similar goal—to increase passenger awareness about security issues—little evidence exists confirming to what extent they are achieving this goal. The paper concludes with suggestions for using outcome measurements to provide a reasonable indication of a campaign’s effectiveness by capturing the public’s response to a campaign.



Nina Rohlich is the project manager for the San Francisco Bay Area Freeway Service Patrol at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Service Authority for Freeways and Expressways (MTC SAFE). She previously was the 511 Transit and Marketing program coordinator for the Bay Area 511 Traveler Information program.

Ms. Rohlich has a Masters of Science in Transportation Management and a Certificate in Transportation Security from the Mineta Transportation Institute at San José State University. In 2008 she was awarded the Reba Malone Scholarship from the American Public Transportation Foundation. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and East Asian Languages and Literatures from Smith College.


A member of the faculty in MTI’s Graduate Transportation Management Program (GTMP) since 1999, Dr. Peter Haas was appointed Education Director in 2001. He earned a PhD in political science (public policy and public administration) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985. He is a former director of the SJSU Master of Public Administration Program, and he has consulted at every level of government and for nonprofit agencies. Dr. Haas has authored numerous reports and other publications in the field of transportation and co-authored the text Applied Policy Research: Concepts and Cases. A Fulbright scholar, he also regularly contributes to MTI research projects in various subject areas.


Frances L. Edwards, MUP. PhD, CEM is the Director of the Master of Public Administration program and Professor of Political Science at San José State University. She is deputy director of the National Transportation Security Center of Excellence at the Mineta Transportation Institute at SJSU, where she teaches emergency management in the Master of Science in Transportation Management program; and Deputy Director of the SJSU Collaborative for Disaster Mitigation.

In 2009, Dr. Edwards was appointed the U.S. Chair for the European Union’s CAST Project to create common curricula for first responders across the EU. She is a “subject matter expert” for the Department of Homeland Security, and has served as a Site Visitor for the National Science Foundation. She is a member of the American Society for Public Administration’s (ASPA) Hurricane Katrina Task Force, Haitian Earthquake Task Force, and the immediate past chair of ASPA’s Section on Emergency and Crisis Management. She won the Petak Award for best paper in 2006. She has published over 35 articles on emergency management-related issues, including in The Public Manager (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), Journal of Contingency and Crisis Management (2009), State and Local Government Review (2007), and American Journal of Disaster Medicine (2008). She has organized earthquake preparedness workshops for National Science Foundation, governments in Japan, and NATO. NATO and Terrorism: On Scene! Emergency Management after a Major Terror Attack, and NATO and Terrorism: Catastrophic Terrorism and First Responders, both with Friedrich Steinhausler, grew out of the NATO workshops. She has given papers at over 35 conferences, including the 2nd Istanbul Conference on Democracy and Global Security, and was a 2006 Fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. She was a member of the California Seismic Safety Commission, contributing to the Homeowners Guide to Earthquake Preparedness, Commercial Property Owners Guide to Earthquake Preparedness, the Northridge earthquake reports and the state’s earthquake mitigation plan. She was a member of the committee created by Dr. Richard Andrews, State OES Director, to create SEMS.

Dr. Edwards’ recent publications include Emergency Management Training and Exercises for State Level Transportation Agencies, Handbook of Emergency Management for State-Level Transportation Agencies, The Role of Transportation in Campus Emergency Planning, “Supply Chain Security and the Need for Continuous Assessment” in Supply Chain Security: International Practices and Innovations in Moving Goods Safely and Efficiently, all with Dan Goodrich; and two chapters in Minority Resilience and the Legacy of Disaster. She also co-authored “Organizing for Emergency Management” with Goodrich in the ICMA “Green Book” Emergency Management published in 2007. Other Homeland Security publications include Saving Community Lifelines with Brian Jenkins, Implementation and Development of Vehicle Tracking and Immobilization Technologies, with Jenkins and Butterworth, and chapters in five other text and reference books. She is also the co-author of FEMA’s course on “Homeland Security and Emergency Management” with Bill Waugh and Bill Nicholson.

Previously, Dr. Edwards was director of the Office of Emergency Services in San José, managing the Metropolitan Medical Response System and Urban Area Security Initiative programs; and acting assistant chief, San José Fire Department. She represented emergency management on the five night “Bio-War” series on ABC’s “Nightline with Ted Koppel” in October 1999. She served on the Stanford University Working Group on Chemical and Biological Warfare, the Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness at Harvard University, and the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine MMRS Review Committee. She was named Public Official of the Year 2002 by Governing Magazine, and one of the “Power 100 of Silicon Valley” by San José Magazine.

June 2010
Public Transportation
Public Information Programs



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