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MTA Eyes Surveillance Cameras On All Subway Cars

Agency Wants To Improve Safety, Security, But Calls Real-Time Monitoring A Challenge

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Imagine a tomorrow when designated officers are watching every move on every subway car through surveillance cameras and a computer tablet.

As CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported, that could become reality in New York City.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it’s “studying the possibility of installing surveillance cameras in future subway car models. They could potentially improve safety and security for our customers, but creating real-time monitoring capabilities would be a difficult technical challenge.”

Manny Gomez, a former FBI agent and president of MG Security Systems, said it would cost tens of millions of dollars to install the right cameras in all 6,000 cars. He, however, said it would be worthwhile.

“The trains are underground. There’s got to be a signal that goes to the ultimate location where there’s going to be live people watching it,” he said.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, a transit watchdog group, said adding the cameras might seen invasive to some, but he supports the plan.

“A lot of people don’t really care for this, but it’s not an irrational act by transit officials,” Russianoff said. “They’re trying to make the system safe.”

With thousands of subway cars to outfit and millions of riders to contend with, even if the cameras are given the green light, they won’t be installed overnight. The MTA noted that the Lexington Avenue line alone has more riders than both the Chicago and Boston train systems combined.

“I think it’s a good idea,” one straphanger told Smith. “So I think it’s money well spent.”

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has not responded to CBS 2’s request for comment about the idea.

Chicago recently installed some cameras on train cars with grant money from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In 2009, the MTA outfitted the No. 1 train with cameras as part of an experimental program. But a spokesperson admits the agency’s main focus right now is installing cameras at subway platforms, with thousands already in place.

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