Subway security at center of controversy

September 2, 2009 3:50:38 PM PDT
New York has spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars on subway security, including cameras. So why are most not working? It depends on who you ask.

There are lawsuits and countersuits. It was supposed to cost the MTA about $213 million. But so far, the cost has been $307 million and rising.

Five years ago, the MTA touted a sophisticated security plan with close to 2,000 cameras linked to high-tech computers detecting anything suspicious. And all that would funnel to a central police command.

But eight years after the 9/11 attacks, the system still doesn't work.

"This is a classic example of total mismanagement on the part of the MTA," City Councilman John Liu said.

Liu, who is running for city comptroller, is furious at the MTA. But the agency says it's the fault of the contractor Lockheed-Martin.

Recently, one MTA official told the City Council that, "Lockheed has not been able to pass the required system tests needed for us to have confidence that everything can work as intended."

Lockheed claims the MTA is to blame, for not permitting work in tunnels when needed.

"We are very concerned with the problems the MTA has had implementing the security plan that they outlined," Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler said.

The fight between the MTA and Lockheed overshadowed Wednesday's Homeland Security event. Secretary Janet Napolitano was unveiling new TV ads on emergency preparedness, which begs the question, is our subway prepared?

"I think the people of New York City can be confident that the emergency planning for any type of scenario, but particularly prevention of a terrorist scenario, is as robust here as any place as I've seen in the country," Napolitano said.

The police and the MTA have dramatically beefed up security. But that high-tech system remains a huge disappointment. Riders, however, do not seem terribly worried.

So far, about 1,400 cameras have been installed. But they're not yet working. Lockheed has asked a federal judge to be released from the contract. A trial could begin next year.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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