Get 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 knows yet.
What we do know is that the MTA will begin one of their pilot programs that will see suveillance cameras in subway cars. This program isn’t about terrorism; it’s about subway security and vandalism, plain and simple. New York 1 has more:
An initiative to put surveillance cameras onboard subway cars took another small step forward Monday as the MTA announced a pilot program to install cameras on two subway cars.
The prototype cars will be the new R160 model, now in service on the L, N, J, M and Z lines.
Transit officials say there is no timetable in place yet, but that the pilot could be underway late this year or early next.
A similar pilot is already underway on buses. About half the Manhattan bus fleet has been outfitted with cameras as part of a $5 million pilot program, which officials say has been successful in combating vandalism.
Now, that’s quite the pilot program. Installing cameras in two subway cars should have the same deterrent effect as asking shouting an empty car while its alarm is going off for 50 minutes in a row. But joking aside, it’s about time.
At first, when the MTA announced their desires for security cameras in the subway, I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea on privacy grounds. Did we really want someone spying on us at all hours of the day as we ride the subways?
But as more and more officials spoke about the need for cameras, I warmed up to the idea. As it is, the city is awash in surveillance cameras, and placing cameras on the subways should make potential perps think twice about the crimes they may commit. Hopefully, cameras would cut back on subway vandalism and incidents of harassment on trains simply by their virtue of existence.
Civil libertarians concerned with privacy have reason to object, but I feel the good of the cameras far outweighs the bad. And besides, no one is going to track down hours of worthless tape for the sake of spying. The videos instead should be used as a review mechanism for crimes committed.
It is of course a bit dismaying that this pilot program won’t get off the ground for months and that it will encompass few cars. In Washington, D.C, and London, the Metro and the Underground have long been outfitted with cameras. While we could argue long and hard about the successes and failures of the cameras in those two cities, the fact that the surveillance programs even exist should be enough for the MTA to roll out more than a two-car test run. As is it, this is an idea long past due.