Camera- and flip seat-equipped train debuts on EBy
The new R160 configuration features seats that can flip up and handholds designed to maximize car space. (Photo courtesy of New York City Transit)
After months of delays and planning, a pair of pilot programs three years in the making are finally coming to fruition along the Queens Boulevard line. A new R160 car set to roll out as an E train will feature four cars equipped with advanced video surveillance equipment and a new car configuration featuring hand poles in new locations and rush-hour flip-up seats. The seats will be locked down for the time being, and Transit does not know when the flip-up feature will be utilized.
For the agency, the announcement that these pilots are live came after years of planning. The MTA first announced plans to install cameras in subway cars as early as March 2007, and in April 2008, Transit said that some R160 at a certain point in the future would play host to the pilot. Last August, Transit again reiterated plans to beef up on-board security, and now, an E train will test run these cameras.
“Video camera systems have clearly been shown to help deter criminal activity on transit vehicles and we believe strongly that they can also be extremely valuable in investigating accident injury claims,” NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast said in a statmeent. “But we must also acknowledge the potential threat of terrorist activity on public transportation vehicles and CCTV has been instrumental in helping with investigations in this area.”
Transit started a one-year evaluation period today and offered a few details behind their plans. Four cars in a ten-car set will be equipped with four cameras each for a total of 16. Each set of four cameras is linked into one DVR system, and the four cameras are tied into a network controller unit that transmits the signals between cars. The cameras are placed to “effectively cover the passenger area,” according to Transit, and while the agency stressed that the cameras are for recording purposes and not live monitoring, it’s unclear how Transit plans to make use of the footage. Each car with a camera in it will feature a decal, seen here at right.
“The CCTV System will be evaluated for its recording quality and car-to-car transmission of video signals within the subway environment,” Steven Feil, Senior Vice President, Department of Subways, said. “Upon successful completion of the testing and evaluation of the system, NYC Transit may consider implementing the CCTV System throughout the subway fleet.”
Meanwhile, while the camera pilot will be live, the MTA’s other long-term plan — flip seats designed to maximize rush hour standing space — will be an option in a new R160 along the E but won’t be activated in the foreseeable future. The history of this plan is nearly as drawn out as that of the CCTV’s. Transit announced a seatless train experiment in early 2008, and while Boston’s MBTA started its own pilot in December 2008, Transit’s plan stalled out when Kawasaki refused to retrofit an R142 for use along the East Side IRT.
The new car, as the photo above shows, will feature flip seats and a better handhold configuration. If Transit decides to flip up the seats for any rush hour, the car’s capacity will increase by 19 percent. However, Transit says that “deployment of this feature is not being considered at this time.” In the meantime, the new pole locations should improve passenger flow and encourage riders to toward the middle of crowded subway cars. Today, with poles close to the doors, those riders who stand tend to block flow and empty space in the middle of cars often goes unused.