Thursday, July 13, 2006

MTA Beefs Up Security and Installs New Camera Systems

By Jean Guccione, Times Staff WriterJuly 12, 2006
Doris Williams watched commuters board the Gold Line in Chinatown on Tuesday from a flat-screen color monitor on her desk many miles away in Willowbrook.She zoomed in on a young man getting off the train, then panned the area around the platform, checking for safety violations and illegal activity.

"It's like a new world," Williams said, referring to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's closed-circuit television system, which was unveiled Tuesday.

She and other MTA staff used to monitor the activities around rail stations on small black-and-white screens filled with images from fixed-mount cameras.Since the London bus bombings in 2005, the MTA has invested $9 million in security upgrades, including the new surveillance system. It also has added dogs that sniff out explosives and has trained more than 9,000 transit workers in detecting suspicious packages and people."We are a lot safer today than we were a year ago, without question," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said as he toured the MTA's Rail Operations Control facility.The mayor, noting recent terrorists attacks on public transit systems in London, Madrid and Mumbai, tried to reassure L.A. commuters that they are safe."We are absolutely committed to doing everything that we can to protect the riding public," he said.