Metro debuts new security video monitors on buses

Metro CEO Art Leahy showing the new security video screen on board a Metro bus. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

Metro CEO Art Leahy showing the new security video screen on board a Metro bus. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

As part of increased efforts to augment security and safety for Metro riders, video monitors are being installed on board some of the new buses that Metro has purchased and is putting into service. The monitors show live video from the buses on which they’re installed.

Two video monitors will display a live feed from already-installed security cameras. One view shows passengers boarding and the other is of the main bus compartment. Older buses may be retrofitted to include the video monitors at a later date.

MobileApp iPhone-ReportIt01Metro CEO Art Leahy, during his CEO report to the Board on Thursday, said the idea is to instill a bit of caution among passengers and potential troublemakers by reminding them that buses have security cameras.

Metro would also like to ask all customers to “See Something, Say Something” if they spot suspicious activities or persons on board Metro. You can report incidents via the Transit Watch LA app, available for both iPhone and Android, or call the Sheriff’s hotline at 1.888.950.SAFE or 323.563.5000.

31 replies

  1. I think the addition of these monitors, while serving as a visual reminder that video surveillance is in progress might also have the unintended consequence of reminding riders that Metro buses can be dangerous. Personally, that’s the vibe I get when I see monitors like this in stores and other public places. For bettor or worse, it says to me, “We have security problems here.”

    That said, I think it’s a net positive. Perhaps these monitor might appear less foreboding if they are also used to display upcoming stop information with the occasionally pop-up from Metro reminding us “This bus uses cameras. …And you look great.” 🙂 A little humor can go a long way.

  2. […] Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CA) installed video monitors on some of its new buses. The monitors display a live video feed from on-board security cameras. One view shows passengers boarding and the other displays the main bus compartment. Link to full story in The Source. […]

  3. Common sense
    They have been photographing passengers since the early 1980’s. Originally it was Super eight film activated only during a emergency but for years video has been used 24/7.

  4. “Market forces affect the Metro too. If enough people don’t like security cameras on the bus and stop riding because of it, the Metro will probably remove them.”

    How can market forces affect them when people don’t have the option to get to their destination through another bus system that’s *not on the market*? There’s no competition with government funded programs… and “staying at home” or “walking” is not really a choice. Are you going to tell me market forces affect the DMV too, because their crappy services are just “an option” that we’re taking; our other “option” being that we don’t drive to start with?

  5. Police State, you ARE allowed to film on Metro, including at the stations and on Metro vehicles. A few errant sheriffs tried to bully the public about this a few years back, but they have since been educated on the public’s rights and have not been hassling anyone filming on Metro. And I know because I have taken photos throughout Metro stations over the past few months, even right in front of and next to the sheriffs.

  6. Collin1000,

    Just to clarfiy, you’re mixing Metro (government agency) with Walmart (private corporation) here. People need to remember there’s a difference with government and private entities.

    Walmart can do whatever it wants in their store. They own the building, so it’s their rules. They can put surveillance cameras in Walmart, but they are also free to make up their own rules to prohibit filming and photographing inside Walmart (like preventing a mystery shopper from a competitor from snooping around the store).

    The inside of Walmart is private property. They make up their rules. They can put surveillance cameras to shoppers, but Walmart also has the perfectly legal right to ask their own shoppers not to take photographs inside store.

    Metro, in contrast, is a government agency funded by taxpayers. We, the people, the taxpayers pay for Metro’s existence. Without us, Metro would not be able to run on its own. Metro does not own anything. We the taxpayers are the majority shareholders of Metro. The buses, the trains, the stations, to the salaries and benefits of Metro employees, The Source, the servers, everything is owned by us, the taxpayers. Metro is publicly funded so everything is treated like public space, just like a sidewalk.

    Can Metro put up surveillance cameras? Yes, they can. But the difference between Walmart and Metro is that, while Walmart can prohibit filming and photography inside Walmart by shoppers, Metro CANNOT (at least in theory) prohibit their riders from taking photos and film inside the bus or trains.

    Whether that is always followed is questionable.

  7. common sense,

    Actually, you’re wrong.

    1. Metro is a government agency so market forces do not apply.

    2. Therefore, Metro is public space. Whether it’s the inside the bus or rail stations, it’s treated like a sidewalk.

    3. A private businesses or corporations are allowed to prohibit filming and photography because it’s their private property. If American Airlines does not want people to take photos inside the airplane, they are free to do so; the inside of an American Airlines plane is private property of American Airlines.

    Now, the problem with Google Glass is that one doesn’t really don’t know whether the camera is directed at a specific individual or the general public space. It’s not like you’re holding up a camera with your hands and looking through the LCD display. The camera on Google Glass is at eye-level at all times as a wearable device.

    Just merely looking at your seat mate or looking around the bus or train can be misconstrued as “videotaping someone else,” when the Google Glass wearer could just be “looking” and taking photos and videos of the inside the bus or train.

    Remember, the inside of the bus is a public space and that’s perfectly fine.

    However, by the nature of how Google Glass is a constantly eye level wearing device, someone in the bus could also argue that they don’t want to be filmed or photographed because he/she has not given the Google Glass wearer permission to do so.

    The argument goes back to “I’m in a public space, I can take film and photography in public space.”

    The issue is a lot more complicated than you think.

  8. There have always been cameras in Metro busses. Nothing is new here except that, just like when you walk into Wal-Mart, there’s a monitor showing that they are, in fact, recording you. I don’t see why everyone is up in arms about this now….the cameras have always been there. This is nothing new, and honestly, if you expect “privacy” in a public bus….. you’re not doing public transit right.

  9. While someone wearing Google Glass may be a jerk, it is completely legal. In addition, ballcap cameras once too expensive except for professionals can now be purchased for a couple of hundred dollars. Honestly, it’s better that everyone do surveillance openly rather than governments or corporations doing things covertly. It’s the democratization of surveillance.

  10. Transit Rider, common sense,

    Since you keep on spinning the facts like I am scared to ride the bus, this is the point I am trying to make:

    If government is going to videotape and film us in your face like this, then the average citizen should have the same equal and same right to videotape and film right back at them in their faces too.

    That’s the point I’m trying to say.

    But obviously, this is not always the case. If it were equal, then there would be no problems like government workers like transit workers and police officers telling citizens to shut off their camera or face being arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights of filming and photographing in public spaces.

    You already have one person, “Metro Rider” stating there should be limits to Google Glass. Metro is a public space. Anyone is able to film and photograph anyone in public space. I totally agree. But you all know what’s going to happen, stop denying it. The instant Google Glass hits the market, it’ll be banned everywhere because there will always be someone uncomfortable with that idea.

    So let’s get this straight:

    I’m all for filming and photographing in public spaces. It’s a constitutionally guaranteed right in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

    But if Metro (government) wants to film me (a citizen), I (as a citizen) should have the right to film Metro (government) back without any harassment.

    Metro, explain your position if this is really the case and you will uphold the Constitution. If someone uses Google Glass to film rude behaviors of your bus drivers, what is Metro’s official position? Can the bus drivers say to the citizens to “shut of the camera” or leave Google Glass behind even though it’s an exercise of perfectly legal First Amendment rights? Or is your official position “we get to film you, you cannot do the same to us.”

  11. Metro Rider,
    There’s a difference between Google Glass and a security camera on a bus. If you are being recorded by someone with google glass, you have all the right to tell them to screw off because they don’t have your permission.

    But if you PAY to ride on the Metro then you are agreeing to sit on the bus with a security camera on it. If you don’t like it, then don’t pay and don’t get on the bus. Take another form of transportation. There’s enough of them available. Only idiots and masochists would pay for something that upsets them when they clearly don’t have to.

    Market forces affect the Metro too. If enough people don’t like security cameras on the bus and stop riding because of it, the Metro will probably remove them.

  12. I don’t know. J Grant made a good point about Google Glass.

    I don’t think everyone riding the bus will be comfortable with someone with a constantly running camera that is being recorded handsfree like a wearable bluetooth device.

    Just as there are limits to freedom of speech (you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater), there has to be some restrictions on its use even in public spaces.

  13. Police State,
    Do yourself a favor and don’t ride the bus if it scares you. There are other ways to get around the city and nobody is forcing you to take public transit. No need to get your undies in a twist and instigate faux-debates online when you can easily choose to go uber, carpool, walk or ride a bike.

  14. J Grant and Police State, let’s see what you both say after YOU are attacked on a Metro bus. I’m sure then you won’t be crying about bus cameras, and you’ll be happy that police will have a clearly identified suspect. You guys really need to concentrate on what’s worth whining/fighting about. Something to improve passenger security is not one of them. If you are so fearful of being on film (doing who knows what, since you seem to be afraid of being caught), then just don’t leave your private home. Simple as that.

  15. Video camera only do so much, they provide evidence of what leads to assaults, accidents (exterior and interior) and even murder. However Partitions give immediate protection for the Operator, until the authorities arrive….The public already has access to ride and they do not need the access to touch “Operators” at their will.. All transit agencies should provide partitions as a first line of defense!!!

  16. J Grant,

    “Will you say the same thing when you see someone onboard[sic] Metro with Google Glass?”

    I would 🙂 You’re in public…it’s common sense that you’ve no right to privacy, whatever the medium. And I would argue that assuming anyone anywhere is out to film you, potentially or otherwise (whether it’s with Google Glass or not) is borderline paranoia and isn’t an issue of those with the camera, but of your own insecurities.

  17. Do they really need those video monitors aboard the new buses? Will they display maps and Metro info? Seems like a huge waste of money to me! I was amazed when a bus driver let someone on for free when I had paid my fare

  18. Metro’s watching us to make sure that we’ve paid our inexpensive $1.50 Metro fare! Quite honestly I wish that LA METRO the MTA would invest more money in improving customer service with faster bus and train service, clean buses and train, and make cash boardings more expensive ex: $2 cash $1.50 with TAP card so that it will encourage customers to use TAP smart cards which will help speed up the boarding process! Get it together LA!!

  19. Filming goes on in a lot of different places that you are not aware of. The way some people act today it has become necessary to do this; also Metro has the right to protect their property and their passengers; also their employees. If you are unhappy; you will have to move to a small town where there are probably no cameras at this point.

  20. Police State
    If one has a problem with their Bus Operator write in or phone in a complaint. The Bus Operator is being photographed as well including audio. It’s always used in post accident investigations.

  21. Transit Rider,

    “you do realize that when you are in PUBLIC, anyone can film or take pictures of you, right?”

    Will you say the same thing when you see someone onboard Metro with Google Glass?

    Thought so.

  22. Transit Rider,

    My god, are you really this naive?

    You do realize that’s NEVER the case when it’s the CITIZENS that’s filming those who work for GOVERNMENT in public spaces, right?

    Don’t think so? I suggest filming officers in public and see what headaches that’ll cause you.

    Don’t believe that can happen in this so called “greatest nation in the world?” Well, obviously you’re disconnected from reality that you don’t even take time to view all those Youtube videos with police harassing everyday citizens.

    Sure, all the federal courts say that the public has all the right to do so, but getting up to that point will surely bankrupt you in legal costs.

    Go ahead. Go live in your fantasy world where government can film you, but government denies you to film them. Have a rude bus driver and want to film the attitudes of that bus driver to tweet it to the world? First thing out of their mouths is “shut the camera off!”

    Government can film you, but YOU cannot film back. That’s the problem. WAKE UP!

  23. Actually, Metro is ambiguous when it comes to passengers themselves taking photographs within Metro, despite being public space.

    Metro has a see something, say something app.

    OTOH, there has been cases where photographers have been harassed for taking photos in public spaces by officers and transit authorities citing ambiguous “terrorism laws.”

    So there is substantiation of government being allowed to film anyone it wants in public space, yet deny that same opportunity when the tables are turned.

  24. Police State, you do realize that when you are in PUBLIC, anyone can film or take pictures of you, right? If you’re in a public space, and you aren’t doing anything ILLEGAL, then you should be fine. Only shady people like you cry out “police state!” every single time safety and security improvements are made. If you don’t like being caught on film, don’t leave your private home ever.

  25. As a near daily transit rider, thank you. And to those complaining about surveillance, the cameras have been there since “forever.” Now it’s just in your face. That’s a good thing and will hopefully deter some from bad acts.

  26. Reblogged this on securelosangeles and commented:
    The reminder that one in on camera should be a good deterrent to troublemakers. Just hope the video quality is good enough to help ID perpetrators if needed and has good secure recording capability

  27. “the idea is to instill a bit of caution among passengers and potential troublemakers by reminding them that buses have security cameras.”

    Or from the perspective from taxpayers: government can spy on you, but you cannot. But it’s all in the name of public safety, so you’re okay with that, right?

    Just shows how much of a police state we’re becoming.