BART Replaces Fake Security Cameras on Train Cars With Real Ones

BART officials finally make good on a pledge to replace decoy video surveillance cameras seven months after a fatal shooting.

SAN FRANCISCO — Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has swapped out all decoy video surveillance cameras with real ones on its train cars, after an investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle last year exposed that around two thirds of the transit agency’s cameras were either dummies or weren’t working.

Now, BART has surveillance cameras on platforms, inside and outside stations, and on the police officers themselves. Each car has four cameras on board.

“The installation of new digital cameras demonstrates our commitment to public safety,” says BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas in a statement. “These cameras will be an effective tool for solving crimes that occur on the BART system by helping investigators to identify suspects. The devices will also serve as a deterrent to prevent some crimes from ever occurring in the first place.”

The cameras have a useful life of six to seven years, according to BART said, coinciding with the time it will take for the aging train cars to be retired and new trains from the “Fleet of the Future” will replace them. The incoming fleet has been designed with built-in cameras.

The BART Board of Directors approved the contracts to purchase the cameras, DVRs, and box housing units for $463,749 in August 2016 after testing various models. The full cost of the project including labor and other materials was $1.42 million with the money coming from BART’s operating budget.

The original in-train camera deployment included a mix of real and decoy cameras that were installed in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a deterrent against vandalism.

But in February 2016, news agencies revealed that 77% of the cameras on the trains either were fake or were broken. The issue came to a head after the Jan. 9, 2016, fatal shooting 19-year-old male on a train at the West Oakland Station. Although there was surveillance video recorded on the platform, there was no working footage taken inside the train.

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