The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will install security cameras in every train car in order to reassure riders about the safety of New York City’s subways in the wake of high-profile shootings, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday.
Ms. Hochul said the authority would spend $5.5 million of state and federal funds to place two cameras in each of more than 6,400 cars in the system. The installation would expand a pilot program that began this summer, she said.
While the system’s nearly 500 subway stations are equipped with surveillance cameras, its trains are not. Ms. Hochul said that the new cameras will monitor the entire car and that fitting out an entire train would take about 40 hours. The cameras cannot be monitored live, Ms. Hochul said, but they will provide investigators with video footage after a crime.
“You think Big Brother is watching you on the subway?” Ms. Hochul said at a news conference in a subway yard in Queens. “You’re absolutely right. That is our intent, to get the message out that we’re going to be having surveillance of activity on the subway trains, and that’s going to give people great ease of mind.”
All of the authority’s commuter trains on the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad are already equipped with security cameras, the governor’s office said.
Ms. Hochul’s commitment came five months after a gunman opened fire on an N train in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, striking 10 people as more than a dozen others were injured. Six weeks later, a man fatally shot a passenger who worked at Goldman Sachs aboard a Q train.
Those crimes intensified fears that were keeping workers from returning to their offices after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In April, a survey by the Partnership for New York City found that 53 percent of employers cited fears about safety on the streets and subways as a reason workers did not want to return to offices, said Kathryn S. Wylde, the partnership’s chief executive.
Ms. Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams pledged to increase police presence, and in June, the transit authority launched its camera pilot program after a manhunt for the Brooklyn shooting suspect was complicated by a faulty security camera system in a station. Ms. Hochul said that the program, which led to the installation of hidden cameras in more than 100 subway cars, had largely been a success.
In a follow-up survey last week, fear of crime had declined to 24 percent and was no longer the most-cited reason workers were staying away, Ms. Wylde said.
“The expanded police presence really made a huge difference,” Ms. Wylde said. “What people were looking for is that we’re serious about reclaiming the subways as safe territory.”