Thursday, January 24, 2008

CTA Says Cameras in Trains will Help with Emergency Response

CTA train operators and police officers will be able to tap into live videos shot from inside new rail cars to respond to crime or other emergencies, transit officials said Wednesday.

The security cameras are among almost $27 million in upgrades approved Wednesday by the Chicago Transit Authority Board for 406 rail cars scheduled for delivery beginning in 2010. About $577 million already had been earmarked for the purchase.

The new rail cars will also feature seats with an anti-stain fabric less likely to absorb odors; flat-screen TV monitors that give the train's location on the route, the next station and travel time estimates; more seats facings the aisles; and a new traction system to provide faster and smoother rides, officials said.

Onboard technology also will diagnose mechanical problems on trains, reducing maintenance costs so sharply, CTA President Ron Huberman predicted, the savings would cover the $26.6 million cost of the upgrades in just five years.

"We won't be tearing up a train to find out what's wrong," he said.

A passenger could activate the security system's real-time video feed by pressing a "panic" button on the new rail cars.