CHICAGO (WBBM) — The CTA this spring will use proceeds from a federal Homeland Security grant to equip half of its rail car fleet with security cameras.

CTA’s Chief Safety and Security officer, Amy Kovalan, said that if the installation works as planned, the transit agency has a “verbal agreement” from the U.S. Deptartment of Homeland Security to pay for installation of cameras on the rest of CTA’s train cars.

The security cameras will be installed on all but CTA’s oldest group of rapid transit cars, built in 1969-70. Those cars, numbered in the 2200 series, are to be retired beginning later this year with the arrival of new cars, which come camera-equipped.

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Initially, the cameras on each of the cars will merely record to an on-board digital video recorder, said CTA spokesperson Wanda Taylor. But all installations will be made to eventually link the cameras to the CTA’s Control Center. The new rapid transit cars’ cameras will be delivered with the same capabilities, Taylor said.

Kovalan said a Homeland Security grant also will pay for improved security in its rapid transit yards, to make trespassing or sabotage less likely. Federal stimulus money is being used to install new-generation security cameras in CTA’s subway tunnels.

CTA President Richard Rodriguez said that the new-generation high definition cameras can show clearly what riders are reading on platforms.

“Five of the HD cameras might give better coverage than 20 of the older cameras,” he said.

For all of the high-tech improvements CTA hopes will make it safer to ride, one rider said that low-tech solutions can work just as well.

“I think even pulling up to a stop and saying, ‘Hey everybody, there’s been some pickpockets here. Beware of your stuff,’ would be enough,” said Richard Osborn, whose teenage daughter recent had an iPod stolen from her at the Sedgwick Brown Line stop.

Osborn said CTA personnel advised him that iPod and iPhone thefts have been common recently on the Brown Line from Sedgwick south.

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