NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA will put surveillance cameras in every subway train in a multi-million dollar initiative that they hope will make riders feel safer.
There will soon be two cameras in all subway train cars after the transit authority conducted a pilot program in 100 subway cars over the summer.
Gov. Kathy Hochul joined MTA officials to announce the initiative Tuesday, saying all riders should feel safe when commuting.
"No one should ever have fear when they're simply going to school on the subways, on our trains, or going to their jobs," Hochul said. "You think Big Brother's watching you on the subways? You're absolutely right."
The $5.5 million expansion was made possible with grant money from the federal government and the MTA's Subway Action Plan.
Watch: Gov. Hochul's announcement:
The funding will allow the transit authority to install 5,400 cameras in total. Each subway car will be equipped with two cameras about the size of a pencil eraser.
Another 3,800 cameras will be installed in 130 subway stations.
"It's been proven time and time again that cameras in the transit system help fight crime throughout the whole city, not just on the subway," New York City Transit President Richard Davey said. "Expanding the camera network will serve to deter those who are intent on committing a crime from entering the transit system."
The cameras are not connected to a central server and cannot be monitored 24/7.
Instead, police will be able to pull evidence of a crime or other incidents after they're reported.
Surveillance cameras in the stations and on the platforms have become a vital tool for investigators as police have struggled to manage a surge in transit crime.
The initiative announcement comes just a day after MTA officials said subway crime was below pre-pandemic levels.
"We are making measurable, sustained progress," said NYPD Chief of Department Ken Corey.
Corey told MTA board members that this summer, the overall rate of transit crime fell below pre-pandemic levels.
"Crime in transit was 8.6% lower this year than it was in 2019," Corey said. "A difference of 339 crimes."
Chief Corey insisted that homeless outreach has been stepped up.
"We now have service providers there, we now have clinicians, and we're getting people the help they need," Corey said.
The MTA surveyed riders back in June and found that barely half of them were satisfied with the system and crime was a major factor.
Some riders surveyed said they were most afraid of felony assault, which is up 18% according to the latest report.
Officials say they still have work to do, and the expansion of the camera pilot program is one of many ways they're addressing rider concerns.
The MTA will post signs to let riders know the train cars are being monitored.
There are already more than 10,000 cameras in the New York City transit system including in buses and on most commuter railroad trains.
An expert with the New York Civil Liberties Union insists there are already too many cameras in public spaces.
"Living in a sweeping surveillance state shouldn't be the price we pay to be safe," he said. "Real public safety comes from investing in our communities."
Governor Hochul disagrees.
"I think that's gonna go a long way to helping easing people's insecurities that they may have, to know that everyone knows now that there'll be cameras on the trains," she said.
The entire subway car fleet is expected to be camera-equipped by 2025.
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