MTA axes station agents; promises new intercoms

The MTA is finally getting its way, with its board voting yesterday to shutter 44 stations booths and lay off 202 station agents next months in an effort to save $12.7 million over the next two years.

A judge in June had blocked the agency from shutting the booths, saying that the MTA had to hold public hearings first. Those hearings were held this month, allowing the board Wednesday to vote for the booth closures as well as to reduce the hours in 42 other booths, despite protests from transit advocates.

“The booth agent has a value,” said Andrew Albert, an MTA board member. “We are putting our riders … in harm’s way if we don’t have this set of eyes.”

The MTA stressed that there still will be one clerk on-duty around the clock in all stations and that there are 953 “passenger emergency intercoms” underground. Transit officials admitted that they are hard to find and on average, 20 break a day.

They promised to begin rolling out a better intercom system in 45 days, with the brightly lit devices to be installed every 150 feet along stations. The intercoms will have separate buttons for emergencies and information, and automatically report technical malfunctions, officials said.

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