New York - MTA to Put Cameras in 400 Buses
New York - More than 400 Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses will get surveillance cameras next year, according to a plan set to be approved by the agency's board this week.
The MTA will start installing the cameras on buses that ply busy Manhattan routes in early 2011 before expanding them to high-crime routes in other boroughs, according to the proposal. The agency can also choose to exercise an option to buy cameras for an additional 1,150 buses.
The MTA had equipped some buses with cameras beginning in 2006, but the system didn't function properly and the contractor, Integrian Inc., went out of business in 2008. Now the authority will award a $9.8 million contract to United Technologies Co. to try again. It'll cost about $17,900 to outfit each bus with a camera system that uploads footage to servers kept at nine bus depots.
"Such a system is essential to providing improvements to the safety and security of the environment for employees and the riding public," the agency said in the proposal.
Assaults on bus drivers are a recurring problem for the agency. Last week, a Brooklyn woman was charged with assaulting a driver on the B82. The alleged assailant told the New York Post that the driver "drives slow on purpose." In July, a Brooklyn grand jury indicted a man accused of punching the driver of the B6 bus in the face after an argument. State law makes assaulting a transit worker a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
The man who runs the union that represents many city bus drivers said he supports the installation of new surveillance cameras—as long as they're used to discipline riders, not drivers.
"Our bus operators are assaulted three, four times a week across the city," said John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100. "I think cameras are a deterrent."
Mr. Samuelsen said officials should go further and beef up the police presence on buses.
Surveillance cameras on buses are common around the country, especially on school buses. Many New York livery cabs have cameras that photograph passengers. And the MTA is adding more cameras to the subway system, both on trains and in stations.