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Bus-ted! MTA will be watching you

PETE DONOHUE / NY Daily News | August 3 2006

Live from the BX34 bus - it's a robbery in progress.
The Transit Authority will soon start rigging buses with surveillance cameras that could eventually be used to give authorities live views of onboard emergencies, officials said yesterday.

The $5.2 million pilot project will outfit 400 Manhattan buses with advanced surveillance equipment, initially just to record images that can be saved and viewed later by law enforcement. That could provide investigators with solid leads should a crime, an accident or terror attack take place.

But the TransitCam system developed by Integrian Inc., of North Carolina, also includes wireless technology that can be upgraded for live video transmissions to a command center, authorities said.

"We will be looking at that part of the application in the future, but right now we want to see how this system works as we deploy it on these 400 buses," a TA spokesman said.

The MTA and TA are installing surveillance cameras in subway stations, and recently announced plans to put cameras inside subway trains. Authorities hope the security moves will deter miscreants of all types, ranging from vandals to terrorists.

"Video surveillance is a vital part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's ongoing effort to maintain a transit network that is as safe and secure as possible," MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow said in a statement.

If the bus pilot project is successful, the TA will install video cameras on the entire fleet of 4,500 buses, officials said.

TA President Lawrence Reuter noted that the cameras could help the agency in another way - by providing filmed evidence that could be used to disprove injury and accident claims filed against the TA by riders. The authority annually pays out millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements and jury-ordered payments related to riders' injury claims.

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