MTA security initiatives delayed again: report | amNewYork

MTA security initiatives delayed again: report

A surveillance camera on the outside of the LIRR at the Jamaica Station in Queens, June 10, 2014.
A surveillance camera on the outside of the LIRR at the Jamaica Station in Queens, June 10, 2014. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The MTA again had to push back its timeline for finishing electronic security enhancements until late 2017 due to issues accessing facilities and damage from Superstorm Sandy.

A report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released Wednesday said the program lagged further behind schedule when Sandy hit, which caused $28 million in damages and delayed the project by three years.

The program to install thousands of cameras and devices to control access in stations and tunnels was slated for 2008 but now has 2017 completion date. For New York City Transit, the electronic security measures will be complete in March 2015 when under-river subway tubes are equipped, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

The cost also ballooned to $520 million from $265 million when the MTA broadened its scope to cover more facilities and had unplanned costs in housing control centers and upgrading computer networks, according to the report.

“That target date is more than nine years later than planned at the time the original construction contract was awarded … and 16 years after the terrorist attacks in 2001,” the report said.

The delay and cost overruns were due to “projects that were more complicated than initially envisioned, permit delays, unexpected site conditions and a variety of issues related to the electronic security program,” according to the report.

Ortiz said the comptroller’s report noted that the MTA is “much safer and more secure than it was before 9/11.”

“We have implemented critical infrastructure improvemennts, enhanced our operations and improved essential training and security awareness throughout the MTA network,” Ortiz said.

There are 4,000 cameras throughout the system in stations which half of the MTA’s ridership passes through each day, according to the agency. The cameras are used for more than counterterrorism: The NYPD requested images from the camera system more than 5,600 times last year, according to the MTA. The NYPD also gets video feeds to its security command center from nearly 1,000 cameras in the subway system, the report said.

“In spite of delays and unplanned costs,” the report said, the MTA and NYPD “are receiving significant benefits from the electronic security program.”

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, the head of the transportation committee, said the delay in the full security initiative was troubling.

“We cannot continue this trend,” he said in response to the three-year delay.

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