Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MTA NYC Transit adds camera-equipped train on the E Line

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With an eye toward enhancing customer and employee security, MTA New York City Transit is set to begin a project that will put advanced video surveillance equipment onboard four cars of a 10-car subway train that will be in operation along the lettered lines through early 2011. This train will also be used to pilot a new handhold configuration and rush-hour flip up seats, though the seating feature will not be put into use at this time.

Video surveillance is a vital element of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's ongoing effort to maintain a transit network that is as safe and secure as possible. As planned, the system provides a state-of-the-art electronic tool that will aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity aboard the vehicle.

"Video camera systems have clearly been shown to help deter criminal activity on transit vehicles and we believe strongly that they can also be extremely valuable in investigating accident injury claims," said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. "But we must also acknowledge the potential threat of terrorist activity on public transportation vehicles and CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) has been instrumental in helping with investigations in this area."

The 12-month evaluation period began on February 22 onboard an R160 train in customer service along the E Line. This system will record video images of the passenger area in four cars of the ten-car train.

"The CCTV System will be evaluated for its recording quality and car-to-car transmission of video signals within the subway environment," said Steven Feil, Senior Vice President, Department of Subways. "Upon successful completion of the testing and evaluation of the system, NYC Transit may consider implementing the CCTV System throughout the subway fleet."

The system, manufactured and installed by TOA Corp., consists of a total of 16 cameras - four in each car. There is one DVR (Digital Video Recorder) for each set of cameras and four NCUs (Network Controller Units) for transmitting the video signals between cars. The cameras have been placed to effectively cover the passenger area.

A video surveillance decal will be visible on each car to alert passengers that they may be video taped. It is important to note that this system is for recording purposes only and does not have the capability for passenger monitoring by the train crew or the ability to transmit real time video of events to a designated remote area.

While the cameras have been designed to be unobtrusive, customers will notice the modified seating and handhold arrangement providing additional areas for standing customers to hold on to. This test train has been retrofitted with rush-hour, flip-up seating that would increase customer capacity by 19 percent (per car) if raised from their lowered position. However, deployment of this feature is not being considered at this time.

In another MTA story, new Long Island Rail Road timetables go into effect Monday, March 8, to reflect the impact of several projects. Track maintenance and construction programs will impact midday, weekday service on the Port Washington and Babylon Branches along with minor impacts on the Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson (to Huntington) and Ronkonkoma Branches. Bridge renewal programs on the Long Beach Branch will mean no train service between Valley Stream and Long Beach on two weekends in March and two weekends in May. Bus service will be provided.

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