A Manhattan judge ruled Tuesday that the MTA cannot boot station agents from 42 subway booths without holding another round of public hearings.

In a statement, the agency said it will appeal the decision, which automatically will prevent the immediate reopening of the customer service booths. The cash-strapped agency is seeking to layoff 478 token clerks, but only managed to let go of 266 last month before the issue got caught up in a legal dispute.

Last week, Judge Saliann Scarpulla ordered the MTA to schedule new public hearings before laying off the workers. The agency, however, believed it could dismiss agents in non-revenue generating positions without further hearings.

In a clarification yesterday, Scarpulla said the agency must keep the booths open until the hearings are held, which the MTA hopes to do in the next month or so.

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“These closures were necessitated by the MTA’s dire financial situation, and the need for the savings they generate remains,” the agency said yesterday in a statement. The cash-strapped MTA said the move could save $21 million a year.
 
John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which took the issue to court, said: “Our subway system is a far safer place for transit riders with our station agents manning the booths … and assisting passengers.”

The MTA board is slated to hold an emergency meeting today to schedule the public hearings.