CLEVELAND -- Some RTA security cameras have been out of service for nearly a year and a half before they're repaired, according to a WKYC Channel 3 News investigation which examined maintenance records from 2012 through March 2014.
52 percent of the cameras on RTA buses took between two and six months to repair. Two cameras were out of commission for 13 to 17 months.
"We're about to begin our contract negotiations and those are some of the issues that's on our priority list," said William Nix, the president of the transit union.
Dozens of cameras on RTA trains -- about 21 per cent -- were out of service to three to six months. It took over a year to fix two cameras.
"If cameras aren't working, what purpose are they serving. they're just a waste of money," said Eugene Lewis, an RTA bus passenger.
Security cameras have proven effective when they're working.
In March, cameras caught a passenger attacking bus driver Chaz Seals. Seals had asked the passenger politely to move aside so a woman with a stroller could board. Seals had to force the passenger off the bus. No one was injured.
"I think cameras are very valuable because they can show incidents where there's a conflict between drivers and a customer," said passenger Richard LaRue.
RTA general manager Joe Calabrese and RTA police chief John Joyce declined on-camera interviews, saying they were too busy.
RTA spokeswoman Mary Shaffer issued brief statements on their behalf.
Calabrese: "Over the last two years, RTA has invested more than $2 million to increase the number of cameras in our network, to upgrade our capabilities and to bring all maintenance work in-house for both mobile and fixed cameras. I feel that both customers and employees appreciate these efforts to maintain a safe environment at RTA."
Joyce: "RTA has more than 3,500 cameras on our vehicles and at our stations, all assisting with the monitoring of safety and security of our system for the benefit of our customers and employees. Every equipped vehicle has between 6-12 independent cameras, which deters criminal activity. In addition to the fine work of our extensive police force, the second largest force in Cuyahoga County, these camera systems allow for increased vigilance and oversight."
Questions about maintenance and long delays in repairs were ignored.