Transit workers gear up for fare hike fallout

(Credit: Urbanite)

By Heather Haddon

Call it blaming the messenger.

NYC Transit workers aren't the ones who usher in higher bus and subway fares, but they often pay the price for the bad news.

“There are arguments, near fights,” said Harry Wills, a Brooklyn bus operator running for union office. “We get the flak for it.”

Signs about the fare hike have gone up throughout the subway system, and new price charts will surface in buses and token booths this weekend, transit officials said.

Still, passengers often don't read the signs, and then direct their angst at bus operators and station agents. They’re gearing up for more unwarranted tongue lashings starting on Sunday, when the fare hikes kick in.“They feel bitter,” said Brenda Davis, 50, a station agent at the 34th Street-Penn Station stop on the Broadway line. “It's easy for them to be mad at me.”

A Cornell University study conducted soon after the 2005 fare hike found that 81 percent of station agents and 71 percent of bus drivers had been verbally or physical threatened by a passenger in the past year.

This time around, station agents will also have to fumble with more quarters. Base fares rise by a quarter to $2.25.

Transit provided additional quarters to token clerks, workers said yesterday. Bulletins detailing the fare increase and potential customer questions went out to station agents in the past two weeks, a NYC Transit spokeswoman said.

Union officials said they could still use more help in dealing with irate passengers.

“You're strictly on your own,” said Andreeva Pinder, the union vice president for stations. “I tell [the clerks\ to keep their behinds in the booths.”

Anastasia Economides contributed to this story.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

1. Straphangers slow to catch on to coming $2.25 fares

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Tags: mta , nyc transit , fare hike

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