Home Asides MTA adding security cameras to over 300 buses

MTA adding security cameras to over 300 buses

by Benjamin Kabak

Over the past few years, a few high-profile incidents involving unruly passengers and bus drivers have made the headlines. One driver was assaulted when she refused to allow a 17-year-old to bring her dog on board, and a 2008 murder has long led to calls for increased driver safety measures. The MTA, under union pressure, is now ready to act.

While a plan to install driver partitions is still in the pilot phase, the MTA announced that it will be installing security cameras on 341 buses around the city. Each bus will be equipped with six cameras — five on the outside, one on the inside — that will store but not transmit a video. The $10 million project expected to be completed within nine months will bring the total number of video surveillance-equipped buses to 426 — or around seven percent of the city’s fleet. The program will keep us safe,” Willie Rivera, a union official said to New York 1.

Once the 341 cameras are installed, the MTA will make a decision on whether or not to outfit another 1100 buses at a cost of $18,000 per bus. “Unfortunately, our streets can be kind of rough, but we’ve been testing this system for over a year now, and so far it’s stood up to the rigors of bus service,” Kenny said. Bus drivers certainly need more physical protection, and this is a step in the right direction.

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Bolwerk July 14, 2011 - 2:07 pm

If there are 5000 bus drivers and one was murdered in the past 4 years, that means bus drivers are significantly less likely to be murdered than the general population.

Pete July 14, 2011 - 4:06 pm

How many people were murdered at your job?

John July 14, 2011 - 4:23 pm

Also it’s not like the cameras will only be used for murders. They will also catch assaults and other crimes.

Bolwerk July 15, 2011 - 3:56 pm

Um, I don’t really have a problem with the cameras, as long as the recording is erased within a certain amount of time if it’s not used as evidence, but the union demanding this seems a bit silly if bus drivers are actually safer than the general public.

Bolwerk July 15, 2011 - 3:54 pm

None that I didn’t kill personally.

However, plenty more have been run over on my local street, which red light cameras catching and making possible the ticketing of speeding sociopaths could have largely prevented.

John July 14, 2011 - 4:29 pm

I’m not sure where you’re getting your statistics, but it seems like 1 bus driver out of 5,000 murdered in 4 years works out to 1 out of 20,000 murdered per year, which is actually quite close to the overall homicide rate in the US (and NYC). Unless I’m totally butchering the stats.

Alon Levy July 14, 2011 - 8:22 pm

There are 11,000 NYCT bus operators. (One of the few things you can learn from the Empire Center’s salary numbers – at least if you know to search for “bus operator” rather than “bus driver.”)

Bolwerk July 15, 2011 - 3:58 pm

Eh, well, I didn’t care that much how many there were. But thanks for improving the strength of my point. :-p

Andrew July 17, 2011 - 9:07 pm

One was murdered on the job. Most murders don’t take place in the workplace.

tim July 14, 2011 - 6:05 pm

Almost $30k per bus? Are they nuts? This agency is doomed. cell phones with a streaming app in a secure shell would do the trick. I’m not recommending that but the MTA is simply terrible with it’s finances.

John Paul N. July 15, 2011 - 5:03 am

The cell phones would have to be constantly powered. That is an immediate issue there. And the angles have to be precise, which is hard to achieve with the bump and grind of NYC buses. Cell phones are used for GPS bus tracking in some small systems, but are not well suited for the canyons of New York City.

I presume that the MTA is trying its best to handle large amounts of data, but it must strive to be conservative whenever some types of data are generated. Video is much more data intensive than, say, the the in-house BusTime project. I am weary of the reliance and the data load that is emerging with cloud computing in general. If I, as a personal consumer, balk at data download and speed caps for my smartphone with the price I pay for the service, imagine how that is translated for a governmental agency.

Bolwerk July 15, 2011 - 4:01 pm

I didn’t get that either, but didn’t want to get into another finances debate.

When they were talking about installing platform side doors, I seem to recall the price coming to $30k/door. Now, I’m no expert on platform side doors, but $30k for a door?

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[…] York City’s MTA will be installing security cameras on 314 of the cities buses, responding to an increase in unruly passengers and threats to driver […]


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