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MTA Anti-Terror Efforts Have Been Slow And Costly, Says Comptroller

Monday, March 07, 2011

WNYC
Security monitors in the Essex St station on the J/M/Z subway lines. Photo by Amy Groark. (flickr)

New York’s mass transit system remains "inherently vulnerable" to terrorist attacks, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli charges in a new report.

The report says the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is falling behind and going over-budget on projects to reinforce bridges, tunnels and train stations — and adding electronic surveillance and ventilation systems to the subway.

DiNapoli said work is four years behind schedule and 44 percent over-budget, with an expected final price tag of $851 million. He also noted the authority had planned to have the first phase of its security upgrades completed by 2008 — that date has now been pushed back to 2012.

Beefing up electronic security in the subway has been problematic and costly. The price tag on the program has nearly doubled, from $265 million to $515 million. The MTA originally hired Lockheed Martin to install an integrated video and electronic sensor system, including motion and intrusion detectors that were supposed to detect unattended bags on subway platforms.

The MTA said equipment delivered by Lockheed Martin failed repeated tests. Lockheed Martin said the MTA caused substantial delays by refusing to give Lockheed workers enough access to the subway system. The two are now suing each other.

DiNapoli did credit the MTA for hiring other contractors and picking up the pace of construction over the past two years. For example, the authority said it has added 1,400 security cameras in the past year alone, with 600 feeding directly into the New York Police Department’s command center.

In a further response to the report, the MTA said: "We have increased the number of security personnel, hardened our system, and work remains on track to complete remaining projects within the current budget."

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