Bill Would Push MTA On Security
By DOMENICK RAFTER
A bill introduced by State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) would give the state more authority over security on subways, buses, bridges and tunnels.
The legislation, which Gianaris first introduced in the Assembly in 2005, would grant the New York State Director of Homeland Security oversight of the security measures utilized by the MTA at its facilities. DHS would examine the security measures being used by the MTA, and then issue findings and recommendations regarding necessary enhancements.
“New York’s mass transit riders deserve to use the subways and buses free from fear of a terrorist incident,” Gianaris said. “We need anti-terrorism experts to oversee the security measures in place and ensure all necessary steps are being taken to make our mass transit system as safe as possible.”
A report issued by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli this week revealed the MTA has gone over budget and has been tardy in implementing security at its facilities. Overall costs have jumped 44 percent, from $591 million to $851 million. The report showed that security upgrades will not be completed until June 2012, nearly four years after its estimated completion date after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
DiNapoli’s report shows the bulk of the MTA’s costs are in security-camera projects, which were severely delayed when defense contractor Lockheed Martin defaulted on an agreement with the agency to equip the subway system with state-of-the-art cameras, leading to a prolonged court battle that still continues. The report highlighted the need for the legislation, Gianaris said.
“The MTA is doing an inadequate job of providing security,” he warned. “[The comptroller’s] report only makes clear that the MTA is not equipped to handle security from an anti-terror perspective.”
He said the bill is modeled on a post-Sept. 11 bill that gave the State DHS authority over security at power plants and chemical facilities, which Gianaris said has been “very successful.” The MTA has opposed the bill, citing cost concerns, but Gianaris said he was not worried about opposition.
“We faced the same concerns from the power industry and chemical industry,” he said.
Gianaris added that the bill would not cost the MTA any money and on the state level, money already allocated to DHS should cover most of the expenses. If passed and signed into law by the governor, it would take effect immediately.
Reach Reporter Domenick Rafter at email@example.com or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125.