Home MTA Absurdity Say cheese!

Say cheese!

by Benjamin Kabak

metro_camera.jpg Apparently, all those people seeing something and saying something just isn’t paying off for the MTA in their never-ending fight against the terrorists, and that non-stop barking dog at Penn Station isn’t too discerning. So now the MTA is going to watch you as you commute, read the paper and pick your nose to and from work each day on the subway.

The MTA, you see, has plans to install digital security cameras in subways in an effort to watch your every move protect our city’s transit infrastructure from the Bad Guys. Already in use on the WMATA’s Metro cars in Washington, D.C., these cameras, according to Michael Lombardi, senior vice president for New York City Transit, can aid in criminal investigations and the aftermath of terrorist attacks. The Times has more:

Lombardi…said the authority had asked Kawasaki and Alstom, the two companies that are producing the latest model of subway car, known as the R160, to propose ways to add security cameras to the cars. The request was made within the last two months.

He said the authority would review the designs and ultimately seek to test them in a small number of cars, to see if the cameras would withstand the bumps, jolts, dust and stop-and-go conditions of the subway system. Mr. Lombardi said there was no timeline for the program, adding that any decision on the cameras would hinge in part on the cost.

I would hope a digital camera attached to the ceiling of a subway and experiencing the same bumps and jolts as everyone else would be effective, but leave it up to the MTA to mess up security cameras. If Washington, D.C., hardly the model of expertise when it comes to rapid transit, can install and monitor security cameras, I have a sneaking suspicion that New York with its extensive network of closed-circuit cameras can find a way to make something work in the subway.

“The goal is to examine where the technology is and whether it’s feasible to do it,” said Paul J. Fleuranges, a spokesman for New York City Transit. “We’ve done that for buses, we’ve done that for stations. Now we have to do that for subway cars.” Hint: It’s feasible, Paul. It’s feasible.

With 660 new cars for various subway lines on order and another 1040 on tap, NYCT would like to see the camera prototypes sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, NYCT plans to add cameras to 450 city buses, and they’ve already nixed the idea — because of the expenses and technology involved — of sending live images to a central rely station for 24-hour surveillance.

I’m not too thrilled with the idea of someone spying on our every move on the subway, and I bet SUBWAYblogger won’t be too enamored of the idea either. You certainly won’t be able to nab that nifty ad after hours anymore without feeling a set of eyes on you. But, whether you know it or not, the city is constantly watching you. There are, in fact, 13 security cameras between the front of my office building and the middle elevator bank plus at least another eight on West 16th St. between 8th and 9th Avenues. So what’s another set of eyes catching us at our most vulnerable as we ride the subways each day?

Image of WMATA security cameras in the D.C. subway from Outtacontext.

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Victoria March 27, 2007 - 5:10 pm

Creepy. I once heard some number of how many times New Yorkers get filmed/photographed each day. I guess it will be more now.

SUBWAYblogger.com » Blog Archive » I Spy March 27, 2007 - 6:49 pm

[…] SAS thinks that SUBWAYblogger won’t be too “enamored with the idea,” but we actually don’t think it’s a big deal.  So you might get caught picking your nose on the train.  And you might get caught on tape when you’re working on your graffiti.  Also, that dream of having sex in an empty subway car probably wouldn’t happen…unless the camera thing is a turn on.  […]

Todd March 27, 2007 - 7:54 pm

I’m all for it. Just like when you buy an airline ticket, I don’t think you have the right to privacy when you buy your metrocard. If they’ve got the money, I say put cameras all over the place…

…but they don’t have the money, so its a moot point. Besides, how long do you think the cameras themselves would hold up against vandalism?

Bloomberg, in London, preps New York for more cameras « Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways October 2, 2007 - 12:58 am

[…] few months ago, in March, I wrote about plans to install security cameras in the subways. While at the time, I was a bit opposed to that deal, I think that, if the cameras are used […]

Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » Coming soon-ish: cameras in the subway cars April 29, 2008 - 1:21 am

[…] ready to smile for your MTA overlords. Over a year after the MTA first started grumbling about putting security cameras in subway cars, the security plan may get off the ground sometime this year. Or maybe next year. No one really […]

Camera- and flip seat-equipped train debuts on E :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog February 22, 2010 - 11:56 am

[…] 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 […]


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