Mass transit bombings on residents' minds

By Laura McMillan

The most recent terror attacks may have taken place 4,000 miles away, but for many Clayton County residents, particularly some of those among the one million who ride C-TRAN annually, the effects are far from distant.

Carlton Tippens Sr. admits to his trepidation. "All the bombings give me a concern. They could blow this building up right here," Tippens said, gesturing to the Clayton County Harold R. Banke Justice Center.

Realizing that he has to continue living his life, Tippens said, "I'm just paying more attention to things around me and watching the news more."

Brenda Brown refuses to huddle up in the Riverdale home she bought last year. Brown, who has depended on public transportation since 1989 said, "It's all I have right now." She said that she does not let herself think about the terror attacks on London's public transportation system because, "You can't stop living." To find comfort, Brown said, "I pray a lot. I try not to live a fearful life."

Harum Abdul-Rahim of Fayettville shares Brown's approach to dealing with the fear. "I know everyone is going to die, unfortunately," he said. "When it is your time to go, it's your time to go."

Abdul-Rahim, a product of a military family, said, "They tried to catch London with their pants down." The surprise aspect of terror attacks has made him pay more attention. "Everybody has to keep their heads up," Abdul-Rahim said of today's increasingly dangerous society.

Molene Thomas of Jonesboro would take Abdul-Rahim advice if she was riding Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) in Atlanta. Thomas admits that she is more aware of her surroundings and fellow passengers while taking advantage of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) XPress Park and Ride bus service now .

"We're just as vulnerable," said Thomas, who works in the Five Points area. "We're a melting pot now," Thomas said of Atlanta, the city she thinks might be a target for future terror attacks.

Thomas is not alone on the GRTA XPress Park and Ride route 440 that travels from the Banke Justice Center in Clayton County to the Five Points MARTA Station in Atlanta. According to GRTA communication director, William Mecke there are on average 380 people boarding the 440 daily.

Although he is as concerned about the threat of terror attacks as any passenger, Mecke indicated that public transportation in Clayton County would not suffer much loss of patronage as a result of the events in London. "I think people are going to keep living their lives," he said. "I know I ride the XPress in from Douglasville, and I am seeing more riders."

Although he acknowledged the general fear inflicted by terrorists, Mecke said, "I think London is a little too distant. It's immediate for us in the transit industry, but it is not as immediate to our everyday lives."

The heightened alertness in the transit industry instigates more extensive vigilance by companies, drivers, employees and riders. "You crank it up a little bit," Mecke said of security measures.

Mecke, like the many citizens who use public transportation and have to continue living with a slightly heightened level of fear, acknowledged that the world is becoming more dangerous in light of events like the recent terror attacks in London. He makes this suggestion to everyone who becomes uncomfortable in any situation on or off C-TRAN: "If you see something, say something."