New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced its plan to install several thousand audio and video recorders on its commuter trains Wednesday, reportedly in response to federal safety recommendations.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, several derailments last year have prompted the need for vast surveillance on a majority of the city’s trains.
“We will be systematically implementing recommendations put forward by the NTSB and other regulators to ensure the best practices are adhered to throughout the MTA family,” MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said.
Transportation officials claim the surveillance technology will be focused on conductors and their staff to ensure proper safety guidelines are followed.
“Safety must come first at Metro-North,” Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti said. “Safety was not the top priority. It must be and it will be.”
Officials say the technology will also be used to control undesirable behavior while giving detailed conversations and video to accident investigators following any derailment or incident.
Along with surveillance capabilities, “positive train control technology” will be installed as well, giving a computer program the ability to override a conductor’s decisions.
Although the vast majority of cameras will be placed around passengers, no mention was made of how long their conversations would be stored.
While officials ignore the deteriorating condition of train tracks across the state, the never-ending cry of safety continues to be used to overpower obvious privacy concerns.
Regardless of the actual intended use, such technology will undoubtedly aid the continued erosion of privacy across the board. Outside of the rail system, other forms of public transportation across the country have begun installing similar technologies as well.
In 2012, city buses in Baltimore began recording the conversations of bus drivers and passengers in order to “investigate crimes.”
In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security began funding an effort in San Francisco to install real-time cameras on more than 350 buses.
While surveillance technology remains at the forefront, more direct intrusions such as TSA style security checkpoints have been rolled out at train stations, bus terminals and semi-truck weigh stations.