Transit cams to train eyes on paint punks

Tuesday, April 29th 2008, 4:00 AM

Smile, graffiti punks – you’re on transit camera.

NYC Transit plans to test surveillance cameras on two trains with hopes of finding the right technology – and funding – for widespread use across the system, President Howard Roberts said.

“Somebody with an acid pen and 15 minutes can destroy about $8,000 worth of glass,” Roberts said.

Speaking after a series of Metropolitan Transportation Authority committee meetings, Roberts indicated that the two-train pilot would start sometime next year.

Cameras that record images inside buses have helped catch vandals marking up NYC Transit’s big rigs, Roberts said, adding he’s eager to have a pilot program on the rails “as soon as wecan.”

Onboard cameras will give authorities the “ability to see what’s going on inside a subway car, whether it’s graffiti, scratchiti or some more serious stuff.”

An NYC Transit spokesman said it costs approximately $1.4million a year just to remove ink and paint graffiti from inside subway trains. He couldn’t immediately quantify the cost associated with damaged windows.

Nicole Clark, 54, a health insurance worker waiting for a C train in midtown yesterday, said she would welcome the installation of surveillance equipment in trains.

“I think it would deter vandalism,” Clark, of Brooklyn, said. “If there were cameras, I don’t think people [would] attempt to do any of that.”

Other riders, however, thought the transit officials should spend scarce resources elsewhere.

“The payoff isn’t worth the expenditure,” said Amram Migdal, 24, a security consultant from Brooklyn. “You want the subways cleaned up but it doesn’t ruin your ride.”

Transit officials didn’t provide a cost estimate for rigging up trains with cameras, but a pilot program to install surveillance equipment on 400 buses was pegged at $5.2 million by NYC Transit two years ago.

With Lindsay Greene

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