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MTA to install security cameras in every subway car

Measure comes from $2M homeland security grant

September 20, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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MTA New York City Transit has received a $2 million federal grant  that is expected to provide funding for the installation of cameras across the entire fleet of subway cars, enhancing security coverage and, most importantly, increasing passenger confidence in mass transit safety. 

The Urban Area Security Initiative, under which the grant was made, is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The funding will enable the purchase of 5,400 cameras to be installed on 2,700 New York City Transit subway cars, two per car. 

The program will also fund approximately 3,800 cameras expanding coverage in approximately 130 subway stations. It will further strengthen NYC Transit’s existing security network of more than 10,000 cameras across all 472 subway stations. 

When installation begins, an additional 200 train cars per month will have cameras installed until the entire subway car fleet is camera-equipped, which is anticipated to occur sometime in 2025. In addition, when new R211 subway cars are delivered starting in early 2023 they will already be camera-equipped. 

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HOCHUL WALKS IN FRONT OF CARS Gov. Kathy Hochul walks in front of No. 7 line subway cars that are laid up for service at the Corona Maintenance Facility in Queens on Tuesday. Photo by Marc A. Hermann/MTA

“My number one priority as governor is keeping New Yorkers safe,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul at a news conference. “I am proud that we will be installing cameras on all subway cars — expanding our security capabilities, deterring crime, and providing our law enforcement with support.” 

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “As I’ve said many times before, those who commit crimes in the transit system will be identified and brought to justice. Riders should know we’ve got their back for their entire journey and this significant upgrade … is a great step towards reinforcing New Yorkers’ confidence in mass transit safety.” 

Mayor Eric Adams said, “Public safety is my top priority and this new security initiative will further work to ensure that all New Yorkers can get to where they need to go safely. Public transportation is the backbone of New York City, and when commuters feel protected, the entire system stands upright.” 

Not everyone, however, is a fan of the new measure. A statement from the New York Civil Liberties Union read, “New York City is already home to tens of thousands surveillance cameras, and there’s no evidence this massive expansion of subway cameras will improve safety. Governor Hochul’s announcement is even more worrying, given that the MTA has been completely secretive and has not disclosed any information, policies, or audits about its camera and software systems: the scope of information that is collected and analyzed, how long it is retained for, how law enforcement uses the information, who the information is shared with, and whether any of the deployed technologies show discriminatory impact or threaten people’s fundamental rights.”

All Metro-North trains are already equipped with cameras, and more than 90 percent of Long Island Rail Road trains are equipped with security cameras. 

In a related measure, Hochul in June signed legislation to protect roughly 11,000 more transit workers against assault and harassment. The legislation extended criminal charges to individuals who assault station customer assistants, ticket or revenue collectors, maintenance workers, repairers, cleaners and their supervisors, who were not protected under previous laws.

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