The agency in charge of Los Angeles’ subways announced at a press conference today that it is working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to install body scanners in the city’s metro system. The plan to scan the bodies of passengers for “concealed threats” is said to be the first of its kind in the U.S.
LA’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in a press release that it’s acquired “several Thruvision TAC-TS4 portable terahertz millimeter wave passenger screening devices” to scan riders for weapons such as “improvised explosive devices or other weapons that are intended to cause mass casualties.” Other body scanners, including the Evolv Edge, are being considered by the agency, according to CBS Los Angeles.
While the agency’s press release did not disclose when the technology will officially roll out, CBS LA reports that it “will happen in the coming months,” following tests that kicked off last year in one LA station.
Amid the significant privacy concerns inherent in any mass surveillance program—the TSA itself has been scrutinized for its embrace of expensive body scanners at airports in recent years—it’s not clear what delays the scanners may cause the city’s estimated 150,000 daily riders. According to a report from CBS LA’s Greg Mills, the city’s MTA “wants to see how [the technology] performs during rush hour. They believe they can get 600 passengers through in an hour, but during rush hour in the morning and at night, they say they have a lot more than 600 passengers.” However, other scanners being tested, placed “at the bottom of the escalators,” may not delay passengers at all, CNN reports. According to the LA MTA, the Thruvision scanners are supposed to enable “law enforcement agents and Metro Security to screen rail and bus patrons without disrupting foot traffic [...]”
We’ve reached out to the LA MTA for more information on the rollout plans and costs, and to find out if the agency will share the results of its initial body scanner pilot test.