Back in June, the MTA shared that they would begin a pilot program installing hidden surveillance cameras in subway cars to help deter crime. Now, that program will be officially expanded to reach every single subway car in a new safety effort.
At a press conference on Tuesday, September 20, New York Governor Kathy Hochul shared the news, citing New Yorkers’ continued reticence to ride public transit as office buildings reopen (ridership numbers, while increasing, are still well below pre-pandemic levels). To help riders feel safer, two cameras will be added to every single subway car (this is in addition to cameras already installed in stations themselves).
$3.5 million of the total cost for the new cameras will come from the MTA’s Subway Action Plan (enabling the purchase of 7,310 cameras on 3,655 subway cars, two per car), while $2 million will come from the government’s Urban Area Security Initiative under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Preparedness Grants (accounting for 5,400 cameras on 2,700 cars, again two per car).
In total, the new funding will cover the cost of camera installation on 6,355 cars as well as 3,800 cameras expanding coverage in about 130 subway stations.
So far, the pilot program has installed cameras on select cars along the 2,4,5,6 E, F, M, G and R lines (across about 100 trains), but now that will be extended to the entire fleet.
“If you think Big Brother is watching you on the subways, you’re absolutely right,” Hochul said.
That is our intent…to get the message out that we are going to be having surveillance of activities on the subway trains, and that is going to give people great peace of mind.
She mentioned that besides a knowledge that someone is looking out for riders, the cameras will also allow investigators to more easily find and hold perpetrators accountable.
UPDATE: The surveillance cameras cannot be monitored live, the Governor clarified, but rather they will provide authorities with video footage following a crime.
200 cars will be outfitted with cameras each month until the entire rolling stock is complete, which is expected to be by 2025.
And, when the new R211 subway cars are delivered beginning in 2023, they will already be camera-equipped.
“As I’ve said many times before, those who commit crimes in the transit system will be identified and brought to justice,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. “Riders should know we’ve got their back for their entire journey and this significant upgrade – made possible by new dollars from Governor Hochul – is a great step towards reinforcing New Yorkers’ confidence in mass transit safety.”