MTA plans to can 800 station agents, bailout money or not
If you see something, say something.
But to whom?
Lost in the MTAs vote to hike fares and cut service Wednesday was its decision to axe more than 800 station agents across the city.
Even an Albany bailout wont save the jobs of the clerks who work at 150 stations. In June, the MTA is making the cuts, which will save $52 million, regardless of any cash infusion.
Thats insane, said Jamal Raphael, of Brooklyn, standing in the Times Square station yesterday. Look around and see how crowded this station always is.
The MTA is primarily cutting roving station agents, the clerks in red vests who dispense directions to tourists and help riders buy MetroCards. Some of the pink slips will go to full-time token booth operators.
Its not something we want to do, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. Its something we need to do in terms of belt-tightening.The MTA will raise fares by at least 23 percent in June and make dozens of service cuts unless Albany helps plug its more than $1.2 billion deficit.
Under the MTA station-agent plan, stations across the system will retain one full-time booth operator, with Union Square and a few other large transit hubs keeping two. All part-time station agents will lose their jobs, but a few full-time workers will stay on. Straphangers needing help can buzz an intercom located along many platforms. But many riders dont know about the device, and station agents say they help keep platforms safe.
Police respond to crime. We prevent crime from happening, said John Mooney, a station agent at the Brighton Beach stop.
Robert McCrie, professor of security management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, thought the cuts could most immediately contribute to fare evasion, as the system has become generally safer.
But long-term, the MTA would have to beef up its security, he said.
Any change of this magnitude is likely to have some effect, McCrie said.
A 2007 study of station agents across 50 booths found that they spent most of their time answering questions and assisting with MetroCard machines, but also helped riders with disabilities use the subways.
Emily Mathis contributed to this story.