Worries about subway security follow bomb attempt

May 6, 2010 4:23:30 PM PDT
The car bombing attempt in Times Square is once again focusing attention on subway safety.

Investigators believe Faisal Shazad may also been planning another attack after a hand-drawn map showing the 4, 5, and 6 subway lines was discovered on a Connecticut-bound Metro North train.

It always sounds like there's a party going on at the 42nd Street subway station in Times Square.

The music is a brief, entertaining distraction from the saturation of uniformed NYPD officers underground.

On the streets above, officers sport bullet proof vests and rifles, a show of force to deter a terrorist attack on the subway system.

At a joint hearing of the Committees of Transportation and Public Safety, the heads of the NYPD Transit Unit and New York City Transit went under scrutiny about subway security.

"It is inexcusable we're sitting here almost 10 years later without cameras in our subway system," City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said.

A March murder at the Christopher Street station exposed the embarrassing fact that only 50 percent of the surveillance cameras in the city's 468 station work and the system is now outdated.

"I find it odd that the police department was never consulted about the installation of a camera system in the subway system" Transportation Committee Chairman James Vacca said.

"I myself had no input as far as the camera purchases or the specific placements," said Asst. Chief Martin Conway of NYPD Transit.

"That's a change that we have already instituted in our dialogues with the police department," said Tom Prendergast, president of NYC Transit.

In the wake of bomb plots by Naijubullah Zazi and now Faisal Shazhad, random bag checks by police started two weeks ago during morning and evening rush hours at four stations.

"We started a pilot program in Brooklyn and Manhattan. On Monday of next week we'll expand that program into the Bronx and Queens," Conway said.

It's a concept some New Yorkers are accepting as a way of life.

"I would be annoyed, but with the problem we're having in New York, I wouldn't mind," said Nancy Tang.

And there's this concern - who will see and say something when 475 MTA workers are laid off?

"We do what cameras can't do," said one worker. "I don't understand why you don't have the money to keep the public safe and informed."

"I think there should be police officers on the train. They should be seen on the platform," commuter Jayne Kamen said.