The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) commended 16 U.S. rail and mass transit agencies for earning the TSA's highest rating for maintaining strong security programs.

The administration recognized the agencies for achieving the "gold standard" on their most recent Baseline Assessments for Security Enhancement (BASE), a program designed to establish a security standard for individual programs and assess progress, TSA officials said in a press release.

The BASE program is a voluntary, comprehensive review of transit agency security programs focused on categories such as security plans, training, drills and exercises, public outreach and background checks.

Agencies reaching the gold standard in 2012 included the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; Bay Area Rapid Transit; Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp.; Metro Transit; Metra; San Diego Metropolitan Transit System; Port Authority of Allegheny County; Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority; Utah Transit Authority; Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Staten Island Railway; and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

"These agencies are to be commended for their commitment and hard work that this level of achievement requires and for their continued dedication to ensure the security of travelers nationwide," said TSA Administrator John Pistole.