The last time Metro announced it would start randomly searching riders' bags was in 2008, and the D.C. Bill of Rights Coalition formed specifically to combat this measure.
It was successful; Metro reconsidered and the bag searches never happened. But the group's leader, Sue Udry, says that success was only partial.
"They never implemented the bag searches but they always had the bag search plan in place," she says. "And they never took down the signs at Metro stations that said that your bags may be subject to random search."
Now the bag searches are back, and in a much different climate. The FBI arrested two men in the past several weeks for plotting separate, unrelated attacks on the Metro system.
But Udry says, if you look at the details of those two cases, it's unlikely random bag searches would have had any impact.
"That speaks toward law enforcement trying to develop relations with community members," she says, "rather than trying to put us all under the thumb of surveillance."
Metro says these types of bag searches have been successfully implemented in New York and in Boston.