Selected Safety and Security Equipment at Subway Stations

Issued Date
April 12, 2018
Metropolitan Transportation Authority - New York City Transit


To determine whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) New York City Transit (Transit) ensures that safety and security equipment, such as cameras and Help Point Intercoms, are working, tested, maintained, and monitored. This audit covers the period January 1, 2014 to July 29, 2017.


Transit’s Electronic Maintenance Division (EMD) is responsible for maintaining and monitoring the equipment used to ensure the safety and security of passengers using the public transportation system in four of New York City’s boroughs. EMD is a reporting unit of Maintenance of Way. Transit’s safety and security equipment includes Closed Circuit Television (CCTV). CCTV is a TV system in which signals are not publicly distributed but are monitored, primarily for surveillance and security purposes. CCTV relies on strategic placement of cameras and observation of the cameras’ input on monitors off site. As of June 1, 2016, Transit had installed 7,152 CCTV surveillance cameras, 1,746 monitors, 332 digital video recorders, five video cassette recorders, and related accessories (e.g., camera components, power supplies, cables) at 322 subway stations. As of July 29, 2017, 2,633 Help Point Intercoms (HPIs) were installed in subway stations for customer use to obtain travel information or emergency assistance. This equipment is installed in all New York City boroughs, except Staten Island.

EMD has a preventive maintenance schedule for all installed CCTV cameras and recording devices. EMD is also responsible for repairing video system equipment, except for equipment still under warranty. EMD has set three days as a target for when a repair should be completed. For HPIs, EMD uses a software program, SolarWinds, to monitor their working condition. EMD responds to the SolarWinds alerts by creating a ticket in the Remedy Management System – the system that tracks repairs. A ticket is created for every alert condition lasting longer than 15 minutes.

Key Findings

We identified the following conditions that Transit should address:

  • Preventive maintenance deters equipment failure and malfunction. However, we determined that from January 1, 2014 to September 30, 2016, not all of the security equipment’s scheduled preventive maintenance activities were performed. For example, we reviewed all 223 cameras at ten subway stations and found that 1,328 of the 4,219 (31 percent) expected preventive maintenance visits for CCTV cameras and their affiliated monitors were not done.

  • We also found that of the 9,223 trouble calls for cameras and recording devices reported to EMD from January 1, 2014 to September 30, 2016, 2,367 (26 percent) took longer than EMD’s three-day target to be repaired or addressed.

  • For HPIs, EMD did not establish a preventive maintenance schedule. EMD officials indicated they will develop a preventive maintenance program once all the HPIs have been installed, which is estimated to be in mid-2018.

Key Recommendations

  • Focus resources on meeting preventive maintenance targets. One such option could include ensuring that, when technicians are reassigned after performing maintenance work that required immediate attention, the missed preventive maintenance tasks are given priority when technicians resume their regular schedule.

  • Ensure defective cameras are repaired timely.

  • Promptly establish and document a preventive maintenance schedule for HPIs.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Metropolitan Transportation Authority - New York City Transit: Selected Aspects of Subway Station Safety (2016-S-11)

Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Staten Island Railway: Safety at Stations (2016-S-91)

Carmen Maldonado

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236