Smart cards ordered to help in security and comfort of New Yorkers

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By Michael Ventura

DNAinfo Senior Editor

MANHATTAN — The MTA mismanaged a security contract and failed to make progress on a MetroCard-replacing Smart Card program, the agency’s chief watchdog said in its annual report released on Thursday.

The Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee’s 2009 report was full of criticism and praise for the cash-strapped transit authority and its subdivisions. It highlighted a security contract with Lockheed Martin, which would have installed security cameras on MTA property and streamlined emergency response, that’s now mired in legal red tape.

Importance of Plastic Business Cards

The watch dog group says the Smart Card pilot program would speed up boarding on crosstown buses. (Jennifer Glickel/DNAinfo)

“There is no definitive word from the MTA on what the next step will be with respect to a security program,” the report said. “This lapse in moving forward with this initiative is inexcusable.”

The $500 million Integrated Electronic Security System was to be installed by Lockhead Martin, but has been held up by lawsuits against the firm.

The Smart Card pilot program would replace MetroCards with a swipe-free card for subways and buses. But the program has languished due to agency “indecision,” the report said.

“As a result, the opportunity to operate crosstown buses at faster speeds, with less bus bunching and easier boarding, was lost,” the report said.

The MTA said some plans are in place already.

“These changes are already underway and will be increasingly visible over the coming months,” a MTA spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

The PCAC also had positive things to say about the MTA.

For example, in 2009, “the MTA continued to make positive improvements in communication with the public,” the report continued.

It also expressed the committee’s optimism that MTA Chairman Jay Walder would be a “voice for the transit rider in Albany and City Hall.”