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EDITORIAL: The MTA's security contract mess

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority stands accused of failing to cooperate with the very firm it hired to install electronic security throughout miles of tunnels, stations and communications centers. If there's a place where egos and ineptitude don't belong, it's in protecting the public from terrorism.

Lockheed Martin was to install video cameras, motion sensors and card-swipe security. But the MTA wouldn't allow Lockheed access to some sites, and stubbornly refused to schedule work, according to a new audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. In fact, the relationship broke down so badly that Lockheed and the MTA are now suing each other. In an age when terrorists have bombed the Underground in London and commuter trains in Madrid, this foolishness is simply unacceptable. What's more, the cost of the MTA's entire security system - the Lockheed electronic security is just one part - has ballooned from $591 million to $833 million because of the MTA's poor original estimates, DiNapoli says. The MTA can make mistakes that take $242 million more from its purse, but still chisel away routes and stops from Long Island's hard-pressed bus and railroad riders.

The MTA has brought in new contractors and scaled back the former Lockheed project. It claims the level of security won't be compromised but this isn't an agency known for its credibility. hN