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January 25, 2007

New York Transit Has Unusable $140m Police Radio System

By Glenn Fleishman

The new York Times reports that a multi-year project for the transit system has significant flaws: The new radio system was designed to integrate above-ground and in-subway communications. The problem is that interference abounds making the system unusable, the Police Department says. The department won’t use the system, which was developed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The MTA’s police force merged in 1995 with the New York City Police Department.

The story is so typical, it makes one want to spit. Despite significant problems known as long as ago as 2001, the MTA kept authorizing the contractor to continue to build out. The police told the MTA in mid-2004 they wouldn’t use the interference-ridden system, and the MTA has been working on fixes. But they continued to press for the new system’s use, regardless of the lack of efficacy. The contractor doesn’t appear to be at fault because they built to spec, relying on the MTA for approval and for providing some infrastructure that proved inadequate.

At this point, the $140m cost will probably balloon to $210m, which is above the original $115m budget. Part of the cost is an additional $36m to replace underground wires used as antennas—something like leaky coax, I’m sure—that turned out to have 72 miles that was unusable, or about a fifth of the system they expected to rely on.

Another change will result from switching from analog to digital, which wasn’t an option when the network was planned several years ago.

Posted by Glennf at January 25, 2007 10:01 AM

Categories: Police, Radios

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Actually one tiny error. The MTA still has it's own police force that covers the commuter railroads and MTA bridges and tunnels, which is separate from the Port Authority PD, which covers the Airports and PA Tunnels and Bridges. The NYC Transit Police was the agency absorbed into the NYPD proper. Byzantium had nothing on New York State agencies and politics.

Posted by: Craig Plunkett at February 7, 2007 9:50 AM

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