NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Four New Jersey lawmakers announced steps to address growing delays at security checkpoints at Newark Liberty International Airport.
U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and fellow Democratic Congressmen Albio Sires and Donald Payn were joined by Transportation Security Administration officials at the airport on Monday.
The plan includes hiring more than 70 screening agents for Newark Airport, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported. The airport will also hire more canine units to detect explosives, nine total by the end of this year. Once passengers are cleared, they can speed through PreCheck lines.
“Within the next week, 95 new Transportation Security officers will be on place here in Newark,” Menendez said. “The TSA will also increase overtime by 16,000 hours.”
The Port Authority said the average maximum wait times this spring are up 82 percent and lines are expected to get longer during the busy summer travel months.
“You could stand for at least an hour, hour and 15 depending on the airport,” said passenger Scott Campbell.
The TSA has said part of the problem is that passengers haven’t gotten on-board with its PreCheck program, which costs $85 for five years of access.
“We actually have fewer TSA officers working now than we did a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. That’s because as we launched TSA PreCheck, we expected more passengers to sign up for that so our budget request from Congress was less money fewer officers,” said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
The budget from Congress is now being redirected to pay those fewer officers for more overtime and to hire 750 TSA agents throughout the country.
“You’re not going to see next-day impact for officers that are coming in,” said TSA spokesman Mark Howell. “It’s a long training process.”
But the Port Authority has called the TSA screening services inadequate and said it may look to hire private security to do their job.
At John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, the airlines at Terminal 4 have budgeted for 35 extra staffers to move the lines, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
Passengers can expect to see some changes at Newark Airport by June.
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