Amidst concerns over a porous subway system, the MTA is planning to equip the upcoming R179 order of new rolling stock with security cameras, Tom Namako of The New York Post reported today. While the system’s preexisting rolling stock will not be retrofitted with cameras, each of the 340 new cars that make up the R179 fleet will have the necessary technology built in so that the MTA can simply put the cameras, shown at right, into the new cars.
“Future cars will be camera-ready,” Paul Fleuranges, a Transit spokesman, said to The Post. “The hardest part of retrofitting old cars to run the lines is that it involved taking the car apart.”
The MTA is currently running one train on the E line that’s equipped with an in-car camera surveillance system, but that car is just a part of a 12-month pilot program. As Namako notes, by ordering the R179s with the ability to install cameras, the MTA may be leaning toward approving this pilot program on a wider scale. The cameras, said Fleuranges, “will be part of the infrastructure, in case we want to go that route.”
As part of the pilot program, four cars along the E are each equipped with a set of four cameras, and the cars with cameras are identified with a decal, seen here at left. The camera sets are 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. The police have yet to request the video feeds.
As with many MTA pilots, the camera program was in development for years. The MTA first announced plans to create what many call a ring of steel in March 2007, reiterated a commitment to the pilot in April 2008 and again in August 2009 before installing the surveillance equipment this February. Various other cities, including Washington, DC, and London, have long outfitted their subway cars with such technology, and it has been used as both a criminal deterrent and a tool for identifying perps and terrorists.