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Port and transit security aid given

Homeland security divided $445 million to protect against terrorism. New York welcomed an increase.

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration yesterday divided $445 million in grants to protect commuters, shipping ports, and transit systems from terrorist attacks - a 10 percent increase from last year.

The Homeland Security Department devoted most of the money to seaports and mass transit: $202 million for ports, $155 million in grants to bus and train lines, and $48.5 million for critical infrastructure around the United States.

Smaller amounts were distributed to protect Amtrak, the national passenger railroad, and bus lines such as Greyhound and Trailways, as well as trucking and passenger ferry services.

Grant awards are closely scrutinized by city and state officials who measure their funding against previous years - though the bigger fight is usually over which cities are judged at highest risk of attack, and how much money each receives.

The grant amounts are based on applications from cities, some of which did not bother to ask for port security funds, officials said. Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson called the money-distribution process "a combination of art and science."

New York City, which has complained of being shortchanged for years, saying grants are spread around too widely, was a big recipient of transit and port aid again this year. The city and surrounding areas in New Jersey and Connecticut are receiving about $93 million, compared with $79.5 million in 2006, and $50 million in 2005.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) called the increase for New York "a welcome sign that DHS may now realize that the terrorists' number-one target should be number one on the list for funding."

Transit-security grants in the Philadelphia area for 2007 total $9.7 million, compared with $9.4 million last year. The Cape May-Lewes ferry system is receiving more than $155,000.

For port security, the Delaware Bay region, which received $10.1 million in 2006, is getting $13.25 million this year: $5.65 million for Philadelphia's port, $4.8 million for Camden, $2.78 million for Wilmington, and $14,500 for Chester.

In Buffer Zone Protection grants, awarded to states for securing critical infrastructure sites such as chemical facilities, stadiums and power plants, Pennsylvania is receiving $1.65 million, slightly down from last year, and New Jersey $1.54 million, a slight increase.