Headline: Capitol Corridor trains to receive security upgrades
Layercake: Prop 1B funding allocated for cameras, operations center
By JEREMY OGUL
Aggie Staff Writer
The train ride to the Bay Area from Davis should become safer as a result of new funds the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority received last week.
The authority, which operates Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor trains that run through Davis, received a $1.9 million check from the state Office of Homeland Security to improve safety and security onboard the trains. The money will be used in part to install security cameras on trains and in stations.
“The purpose for these funds is to increase security and safety against both natural and manmade disasters,” said OHS spokesman Steve Turner. “[These cameras] give you a picture of what happened outside of anybody else’s perception of it, and they give you something you can review later.”
Turner said such security cameras were useful during the London train bombings in 2005, allowing authorities to review froman additional perspective.
“It’s new technology, and if something happens – whether it’s to your grandmother or somebody who’s trying to do harm on trains – you want that technology to let you know what happened.”
The funds come from Proposition 1B, a bond approved by voters in 2006 to provide $19.9 billion for transportation improvement projects. The check received last week was the first in a series of payments that will add up to $19 million over 10 years for Capitol Corridor, spokesperson Luna Salaver said.
Train officials are also hoping that the cameras, which will be installed on both the inside and outside of trains, will have other uses as well.
“It will give our security staff members the ability to see what’s going on in real time on trains,” she said. “For the cameras that are at the front of the train, we will be able to reconstruct whenever there’s collisions.”
Salaver said such interior cameras would have helped recently with a report of someone going into other passengers’ luggage on the train. The exterior cameras would also be useful to investigators in situations like the death of a Richmond man who stepped in front of a Capitol Corridor train on Apr. 14.
Officials are planning to use future funding to construct a security operation center in Oakland, install wireless networks, upgrade crossing barriers and swing gates at crossings and install more warning signage.
“We are also going to update our passenger communications network, which is the digital signs in each station telling you the status of the train,” Salaver said.
The Capitol Corridor trains travel between Auburn at the northern end and San Jose at the southern end, passing through Berkeley and Oakland on the way.
UC Davis junior Katie Lieberman has been riding the train between Davis and the Bay Area roughly twice a month for three years.
“I’ve wondered … you don’t get your bags checked, which is kind of rare in transportation these days, so sometimes I worry about that,” Lieberman said.
She said she’s not too concerned about crime on the train, though.
“I’ve never experienced crime on the train, and no one I know has either,” she said.
Capitol Corridor expects to have the cameras installed and operating by the end of 2008. Other projects will be completed as funds become available.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. XXX