Those of us from a big city that have to take public transportation every day have more or less accepted the unspoken contract that buying a ticket to ride entails. You’ll have to deal with all sorts of germs, odors, harassment from crazy people, and give up all semblance of privacy you might like while you’re groggy in the morning. Now, New Jersey Transit is verbalizing one aspect of that unspoken contract: your privacy is being thrown onto the tracks like all those empty soda bottles you stare at while waiting for the train to arrive.
Most public transportation and their stations have cameras placed throughout in order for security personnel to spot any potentially dangerous situations. While security cameras have been a staple of New Jersey Transit for a long time, they’re now going to record audio. As part of a new, heightened security plan, NJT will record what you’re saying. Worse, NJT has not revealed how long they’ll keep the security recordings, how they’re being used, who can access to them, and if a warrant is even required to do so.
New Jersey Transit’s justification for recording passenger conversations is a 5% rise in crime on the transportation system, totaling around 130 last year.
Though the New York area is considered to have some of the best public transportation in the world, that doesn’t exactly change the somber, alone-in-a-crowd experience of actually riding on it. The trains didn’t exactly need this invasion of privacy as another reason to make everyone’s morning commute worse, but hey, at least those of us with NJT experience know that everyone is too busy being quietly depressed to actually have conversations that can be recorded against our will in the first place.