Smile! You’re on the subway.
Security cameras will be installed in all New York City subway cars, Gov. Hochul said Tuesday, as officials work to stamp out a pandemic surge in subway crime.
The governor said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will station two cameras in each of the city’s 6,455 subway cars, a move that arrives after cameras were installed in all 472 of the system’s stations.
Hochul said she expects the cameras will provide a useful law enforcement tool, and a deterrent to subterranean crime that appears to be ebbing as more workers return to work, but remains elevated.
“You’re going to be caught if you conduct any activity, whether it’s an aggressive act or it’s a violent crime,” Hochul said at a news conference in Corona, Queens.
“You think Big Brother is watching you on the subways? You’re absolutely right — that is our intent,” Hochul added. “That is going to give people great piece of mind.”
The blueprint would bring New York in line with other big cities like Washington and San Francisco that already have installed cameras in subway cars.
Transit crime in New York City had climbed 45% year-over-year through Sept. 11, according to Police Department data, and a series of sensational crimes on the system this year sharpened commuters’ fears.
In April, a gunman unleashed a hail of 33 bullets on an inbound N train in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, wounding 10 and underscoring the sense of growing danger on the subway system.
Hochul and Mayor Adams have rushed to improve the state of the subway, working in coordination on a series of initiatives, including the deployment of more police officers.
Hochul said Tuesday that authorities see small signs of progress, pointing to a roughly 21% drop in transit crime over the summer, even as she acknowledged room for improvement.
“People are still concerned about transit crime,” the governor said Tuesday. “Statement of fact. It’s real. And that’s why we’re leaning into finding strategies and technologies.”
Transit crime is down compared to the last year before the pandemic, the governor said. But ridership remains lower than in 2019.
Last September, the MTA announced the completion of its effort to install cameras in every subway station. Fewer than 60% had cameras at the start of 2021.
A pilot program to put cameras into cars for the first time began in June, Hochul said.
The complete program — which will cover the installation of more than 12,000 cameras — will be funded through a combination of $2 million in federal grants and $3.5 million from the state, according to the governor’s office.
Janno Lieber, the head of the MTA, said that deployment of thousands more cops on the subway system has helped to make riders feel safer, and that the camera program marks the next step in authorities’ efforts.
“If you prey on New Yorkers or you commit vandalism or damage MTA facilities, we’re going to have pictures of you,” Lieber said at the news conference. “And the NYPD is going to find you, going to catch you and going to punish you. “