Subway riders interviewed yesterday said they won't mind if MBTA officials conduct random identification checks this summer as long as the increased security measures don't become a substantial inconvenience or raise the specter of racial profiling.
"As long as it's quick and short, it doesn't bother me," said Tom Reardon, an accountant from Dorchester, at the JFK/UMass stop. "But I don't think they should deny anyone a ride. Anyone can forget their license."
Mea Johnson, 26, an African-American student, said she didn't want to be stopped "just because I'm a minority."
"But if there was a situation where it seemed appropriate, if there is a real threat, and not just them asking whenever they want," she said, "then sure."
Just when transit police will begin identification checks, and to what extent they will be asking riders to show driver's licenses or some other form of identification, remains unclear.
MBTA police officers have been training with State Police troopers from Troop F at Logan International Airport, who are experienced in identification checks, officials said. Some riders have reported that they were asked for identification while boarding trains at South Station as part of a training program.
MBTA officials, however, would not comment yesterday on particular facets of any security measures planned this summer.
Instead, in a statement issued yesterday, authority officials said only that transit officers working with State Police are being trained "to detect whether the actions of one or more individuals indicate any level of risk or threat to the transit system and, where necessary, take steps in response to the observed behavoir."
US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, said, to his knowledge, federal officials have issued only "vague" directives to transit agencies on conducting identification checks.
"I've heard it's one measure they're considering. But it's very general at this point," he said.
On Friday, Lynch filed legislation calling for an additional $4.5 billion to increase rail security nationwide, which he says is woefully inadequate.
He did, however, praise MBTA officials for "being ahead of the curve" in terms of security measures, noting that scores of transit officers are training with the State Police in preparation for this summer's Democratic convention.
Some non-citizens, including Alejandro Alcaras, 20, a Cambridge College student from Mexico, questioned whether they would need to start carrying passports with them on rides.
Other riders, however, said they always carry identification with them anyway and felt that it would be no bother to show it.
"We're over in Iraq now. Who's to say [a terrorist] won't come over here to cause havoc?" asked Bob Fuller, of Stoughton.
"It would be an inconvenience," said Mark Giglio, 16, of Newton. "But maybe a necessary inconvenience."