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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Metropolitan Transportation Authority – Staten Island Railway
Selected Safety and Security Equipment at Train Stations


Issued: April 12, 2018
Link to full audit report 2017-S-84
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the Staten Island Railway has taken appropriate action to ensure that equipment, such as cameras and "Customer Assistance Intercoms," are working, tested, maintained, and monitored. The audit covers the period January 1, 2014 to September 12, 2017.

Background
Staten Island Railway (SIR) is a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Administratively, SIR is a separate operating unit, reporting to New York City Transit's (Transit) Department of Subways. SIR operates a single rapid transit line that runs the length of Staten Island (about 14 miles) from St. George Terminal to the southern terminal at Tottenville.

SIR's management oversees capital projects at its 21 train stations, maintains the stations' structural components, and ensures that security equipment installed at the stations is working, monitored, and tested. As of June 8, 2017, SIR had 199 Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, 42 stand-alone cameras, and 43 Customer Assistance Intercoms (CAIs) (intended for customer use in emergencies) at an estimated cost of approximately $21 million for the new system, excluding the stand-alone cameras.

SIR's Electronic and Electrical Maintenance Division (EEMD) technicians perform preventive maintenance and repairs on safety and security equipment such as CCTV cameras, CAIs, monitors, and digital video recorders (DVRs). The CCTV system is not publicly broadcasted, but is monitored, primarily for surveillance and security purposes. CCTV relies on strategic placement of cameras and the off-site observation of the cameras' footage.

The SolarWinds system continuously monitors the CAIs and an alert issued in the case of an operational defect.  When an alert lasts 15 minutes or more, the IT manager sends EEMD an email and a technician will address the condition. The CAIs were activated on June 29, 2017.

SIR’s CCTV cameras are split into two systems: the old system is operated and maintained by the EEMD. These camera systems are located inside the station houses (shelter on station platform) and in the eastbound and westbound porticos (egress-entrance/exit areas). There are usually between two and four CCTV cameras in the station house and two in each portico, or about six to eight per location. CCTV video from these cameras is recorded on a local DVR and not monitored.  We were advised that these cameras were installed on a staggered basis beginning in September 2014, and the new system includes cameras and CAIs located in the off-hour waiting areas of each side of the station platform. At St. George and Tompkinsville, they are near the turnstiles – Automated Fare Collection pay areas. The video from the new system is reviewed about once per day, Monday through Friday.

Key Findings

  • Transit has installed a number of safety and security systems at SIR train stations. Preventive maintenance and timely repair of these systems are essential to deterring break-ins and theft and ensuring continuous surveillance, passenger safety, and the overall security of the areas being monitored
  • From  January 1, 2014 through September 12, 2017, SIR did not have written preventive maintenance procedures for security equipment (i.e., CCTV cameras and DVRs) installed at stations. A SIR official told us that maintenance of the "old" CCTV equipment is not required; however, to ensure it is working, SIR inspects and tests the equipment for the old system monthly. Staff identified defects were noted on paper and given to the Maintenance Foreman to address in a timely manner. However, there was no definition of "timely."  SIR officials also stated that maintenance of the new CCTV system was not required but was done every 90 days.  The new cameras self-report equipment failures or defects.  Since May 17, 2017, the IT Manager checks the equipment failures on a daily basis to note items that require repair, and then notifies EEMD via email.
  • For the period October 1, 2014 to May 31, 2017, a review of the inspection records provided showed that all of the inspections were not done. For example, Oakwood Heights, Great Kills, and Tottenville had just 26 of 32 inspections. In addition, the St. George station, which has the most cameras installed (91), had only 5 of 32 scheduled inspections. SIR did not provide records for December 2014 or February, August, and September 2015. Failure to perform maintenance activities can shorten the operating life of the equipment and decrease equipment reliability.
  • On  October 18, 2007, Transit's Capital Program Management started a project to improve customer security with the new CAI system, which would link CCTV cameras with CAIs.  There were significant delays that prevented the CAIs from becoming fully operational. In total, it has taken almost 10 years to install and start to operate the CAIs. According to SIR, as of June 29, 2017, the 43 CAIs installed at 20 of the 21 stations were operational.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop a repair frequency standard, and ensure compliance with preventive maintenance and repair frequency standards.
  • Clarify whether the newly developed inspection and preventive maintenance procedure includes CAIs.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest
None


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236