Metro-North will ask to approve money to hire a firm to design and install inward and outward facing cameras and audio recorders in locomotive cabs to comply with recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board for better safety monitoring after the December derailment that killed four people.
Last month the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that Metro-North expedite installation of the cameras which the agency said would have helped with their investigation of the Bronx, N.Y., derailment in December.
"The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is committed to safe operations at all its agencies," said Thomas F. Prendergast, chairman and chief executive officer of the MTA. "We will be systematically implementing recommendations put forward by the NTSB and other regulators to ensure the best practices are adhered to throughout the MTA..."
The contract will cover all Metro-North and Long Island railroad M8 and M7 railcars, cab cars and diesel locomotives, including 843 cars for Metro-North and 926 at Long Island Railroad.
"I'm happy that they are doing it but it makes you wonder if they had had a culture promoting safety this might have been done in advance," State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, a ranking member of the state legislature's Transportation Committee. "There might have been other improvements in place that would have prevented the derailments and dozens of people injured."
In January, the nation's rail safety regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration, announced it would require crash-proof cameras on all passenger trains. In February, NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman said in her preliminary recommendations to Metro-North after the Spuyten Duyvil crash that the inward and outward facing cameras would have helped identify the engineer's condition or actions before the derailment.
In that crash, the engineer driving the train William Rockefeller told investigators that he went into a daze before the crash in which the train careened into a sharp curve at 82 miles per hour where the speed limit was 30 miles per hour.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he welcomed Metro-North's decision to take concrete action toward installing the cameras, but was concerned about the lack of specific deadlines to get it done.
In January, Blumenthal along with his colleague U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called on the Federal Railroad Administration to order the installation of the cameras rather than follow a longer rule-making process.
"I'm going to continue to push for the installation of these cameras and other safety improvements needed to restore the safety and reliability of the line," Blumenthal said.