Kaminsky: MTA, LIRR need cameras now to deter terrorism
A state lawmaker is calling on the MTA to speed up plans to install cameras on trains and stations throughout the system, including along the LIRR, to help protect commuters from a potential terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released new details Wednesday of plans to renovate two of its busiest stations.
Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) joined Long Island Rail Road commuters outside the railroad’s Rockville Centre station Wednesday morning to urge the agency to move quickly to install cameras at stations and on board trains to deter terrorist activities, alert authorities to suspicious packages, and help investigators in the event of an attack, “before they can do more damage.”
“Just last weekend, we saw once again that a train station was right in the heart of a terrorist’s plans,” Kaminsky said, referring to suspected Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami’s placement of a bomb near the NJ Transit station in Elizabeth. “Unfortunately, as we stand here today our, stations and our cars are vulnerable to lone wolf attackers.”
Kaminsky sent a letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast Wednesday to fully fund the camera effort in the agency’s next budget.
The LIRR has plans to install cameras at all 124 of its stations by 2019, as well as install cameras on all its trains, including its next fleet of trains. They begin rolling out in 2018.
“We’re committed to increasing the number of cameras we have in the system,” Prendergast said Wednesday at the Sustainable Development Conference in Melville. “So what the senator was asking for is in line with what we’re doing. The real question is the pace at which we can do it.”
Also at the Melville conference, Prendergast offered new details of two ongoing projects to expand and renovate the LIRR’s stations at Jamaica and Hicksville. Prendergast unveiled new artists’ renderings of the redesigned stations and announced that the MTA has awarded a $65 million contract for the construction of a new platform and track at Jamaica.
“Revamping these two heavily trafficked transportation hubs will provide better, faster and more reliable train service for Long Island Rail Road riders,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
The re-envisioned Hicksville station, as depicted in the renderings, includes a glass-enclosed platform waiting room with slylights, phone charging stations and free WiFi. The $121 million project, first announced in 2012, is expected to be completed in 2018.
The new platform and track at Jamaica — part of a capacity expansion project that began in 2010 — will be used to run more frequent train service to and from Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. The shuttle-like service will be necessary as the LIRR begins operating trains to a second Manhattan station, at Grand Central Terminal, as part of East Side Access, expected to be finished by 2022.
Mark Epstein, chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council, said while he appreciated the need to streamline train traffic at Jamaica, he is concerned that the end result of the changes will be “less convenience” for Brooklyn riders, especially those with disabilities who will have difficulty getting to and from the new platform.