BART continues to have to answer for its aging train car woes, and for its recent spate of crime, and the latest terrible tidbit comes via the Chronicle, where we learn that more than 100 of the so-called "working" surveillance cameras aboard BART trains are using video technology from the 1970s, including some that are recording on aging Betamax tape.
The news comes just a couple weeks after BART proudly announced that they'd completed a project to replace what were in many cases decoy cameras with real, modern ones a project that cost $1.42 million and took them over a year to complete, following the revelation that many of the cameras didn't work or didn't exist in the wake of a high-profile fatal shooting on a train early last year.
Ironically, their announcement noted that the new, digital cameras had a usable life span of six to seven years uh, what's the life span of a Betamax camera, folks?
"Tapes just get worse with age,” say digital forensics guy Doug Carner, speaking to the Chron. "It’s just a terrible medium."
Apparently some of the cameras are still using VHS tapes too.
Sony killed off the Betamax player technology, officially, in 2002, despite it being superseded in popular culture two decades earlier by VHS. Because of the niche market represented by agencies like BART, Sony continued producing Betamax tapes until 2015, when they officially killed those off as well.
So, it's true that all of BART's onboard cameras now work, allegedly. But if something bad happens to you or someone you know on a train, you'd better hope you or they are on one of the 555 cars with digital cameras on them, not the 97 still outfitted with Beta cameras and 17 outfitted with VHS cameras, because that footage is going to be a mess.
BART spokesperson Alicia Trost counters that saying that the only reason the cameras haven't been replaced is because they're still producing usable footage, but can we trust that they've actually really checked them all? She says that when police request footage and it comes back (in Beta!) totally unusable, the camera in question gets replaced.
Clearly BART is trying to save a few dollars here given that their Fleet of the Future is set to get rolling, ever so slowly, starting with a few cars by the end of this year.
In related news, some of those Fleet of the Future cars are going to be seen rolling through stations on your commute soon KQED reports that the new cars are being tested during regular business hours on BART's main lines right now.
ALSO, BART director Bevan Dufty announced Tuesday that after much protest by the media, BART Police will be reinstating their daily crime log emails, which had recently been replaced by the CrimeMapping.com tool.
"We need to be open," Dufty told the Chronicle. "Our focus needs to be on recruiting more [BART Police] officers and not curtailing information."