MTA rolling out ‘hidden’ surveillance cameras on subway trains

Transit officials have installed “hidden” surveillance cameras on 65 train cars in the past six weeks as part of a pilot initiative to test the technology’s effectiveness in solving transit crimes, The Post has learned.

The cameras — which are hidden from public view — are not connected to a central server and cannot be monitored 24/7, but are instead intended to be used by cops to pull evidence of crimes or other incidents that may occur underground.

“There are two cameras per car. I’ve actually seen some video from the pilot, and they’re very clear,” New York City Transit President Richard Davey said in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s a deployable camera. It will record a loop for a period of time, and if there’s an incident on a train, we can get into that camera and get video.”

“Most of them are hidden, so customers wouldn’t be able to see them,” Davey added.

“Our goal is 100 cameras in this initial pilot said Richard Davey, who added the MTA could continue to install them.
Kevin C. Downs for The New York Post

He said the MTA will “eventually” put up signage to inform riders and would-be criminals that they are being watched.

Davey said there are now no plans to have the cameras watched in real time.

“It’s a prophylactic measure only,” he said. “We will only pull the feed if there’s a report of an incident, a crime, an issue. We have so much going on here, the last thing anyone at this organization has time for is randomly looking at video.”

The pilot initiative has been launched in response to the shooting at a subway station in Sunset Park on April 12.
The pilot initiative has been launched in response to the shooting at a subway station in Sunset Park on April 12.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

MTA officials launched the new initiative in the wake of the April 12 shooting at a subway station in Sunset Park, which called attention to the authority’s extensive camera network— and the fact it didn’t extend to actual train cars.

Davey said the success of the pilot so far means the MTA will continue to add cameras to more trains. The authority’s latest subway car model — the R211, which is currently in its testing phase — comes pre-equipped with surveillance cameras, as do MTA buses.

“We’ve had on-train incidents where we haven’t had camera coverage like we do in our stations,” Davey said. “Our goal is 100 cameras in this initial pilot, and if it goes well, then we’ll continue to install throughout the fleet.”

MTA subway stations only became fully-equipped with security cameras in the last few years, in response to rising crime rates in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NYPD officials have said they use MTA surveillance footage “dozens of times on a daily basis to identify specific incidents, crimes and to identify perpetrators.”

The NYPD uses MTA surveillance footage many times a day to identify perpetrators, specific incidents and crimes.
The NYPD uses MTA surveillance footage many times a day to identify perpetrators, specific incidents and crimes.
Paul Martinka

Some of the stations cameras operate on closed-loops like the models officials are now installing on trains. Others connect back to NYPD or MTA HQ, who monitor the feeds.

The cameras at the location of the April 12 shooting were not transmitting back to cops at the time of the incident — which NYPD sources have claimed delayed their ability to catch the perpetrator.

A previous on-train camera pilot was launched and abandoned about four years ago, the MTA said.

Many of those older cameras, which are not hidden, remain on trains despite being inoperable.