On my way to Toronto last weekend, I was subjected to Greyhound’s farcical new ‘security screening.’
People were made to stand in a line in front of a roped-off area. One by one, they removed metal objects from their pockets, placed them in a dish, and had a metal detecting wand waved over then. At the same time, another security person spent a couple of second poking around in the top few inches of the person’s carry-on bag. The person then entered the roped-off area, carrying their carry-on and checked bags with them, waiting for the rest of the line to be processed.
Ways to get a weapon past this system:
- Get one not made of metal, like a ceramic knife, and put it in your pocket.
- Put it below the top few inches of your backpack.
- Hide it inside a hollowed-out book, inside a piece of electronics, etc.
- Put it in your wallet. With a wallet that can take an unfolded bill, you could fit a few flat throwing knives.
- Tape it to the bottom of your shoe.
- Put it in your checked baggage, remove it while you are waiting on the far side of the line.
- Go through the screening, ask to go use the bathroom, collect your weapon, and return to the ‘screened’ area.
- Before entering the bus station, hide a weapon outside, in the vicinity of where your bus will pull in. Pick it up before boarding.
- Use a weapon that is both deadly and innocuous: such as a cane, umbrella, or strong rope.
- Get on at a rural stop, instead of Ottawa.
- Get on in Toronto, instead of Ottawa, since they don’t seem to be bothering with the screening there.
I am not saying that people should actually bring weapons on Greyhound buses, and I am most certainly not saying that Greyhound should tighten their security to make these tactics useless. I am saying that the new screening is nothing more than security theatre. It does nothing to make Greyhound buses safer, though it will add needlessly to ticket prices.
On a more philosophical level, it also perpetuates the kind of low-freedom, security-obsessed society that many people seem to expect. It would be far healthier to acknowledge that the world contains risks while also noticing that countermeasures to reduce those risks have real costs, whether in hard currency or in convenience or privacy or liberty.