The MTA's cutting-edge surveillance system won't be fully up and running for another 2-1/2 years, a top official said yesterday - prompting new criticism that the agency has moved too slowly in the wake of 9/11.
The system will include 1,000 video cameras, 3,000 motion sensors and computer software to identify potential threats - like a package abandoned on a subway platform - and trigger alarms at command centers.
Lockheed Martin and the MTA are doing the last round of tests on the technology, which has never been used to secure a mass transportation system, Ronnie Hakim, an MTA vice president, told the City Council transportation committee.
Installing the equipment in the MTA's vast network of subway stations, bridges, tunnels and commuter railroads is expected to be completed around September 2008, she said.
"It doesn't seem to me that we're safer today than we were on 9/11," Councilwoman Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan) said.
Councilman Michael McMahon (D-Staten Island) charged the MTA is not moving fast enough considering "9/11 was an act of war. We're at war."
The MTA has moved as fast as possible, considering the complexity of the unprecedented project, Hakim said.
"In some instances, we are talking about projects that have never been done before," she said.
The agency's short-term security efforts have included spending more than $250 million to boost security staff, including a nearly 40% increase in the MTA Police Department's staffing, and the creation of specialized response units.
Security contracts for nearly $590 million in design and construction work have been awarded, officials said.
Hundreds of surveillance cameras have been placed throughout the system.
All told, more than 4,000 will be in place by the end of the next year, including those that are part of the $212 million Lockheed contract, officials said.
Originally published on February 3, 2006