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Report: Announcers should be expanded, not cut

Flooding on the F Line at Hillside Ave in 2007 (Photo NYC Transit)

Attention riders: You may be getting less info when rain wreaks havoc on the subways.

The MTA is eliminating all the subway announcers dedicated to handling weather-related emergencies, even though an internal report recommended that agency needs more, sparking concerns straphangers will be left in the dark, amNewYork has learned.
"When there is a long delay and no one is telling you anything, it's terrible," said Andrew Albert, chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council.

In 2007, NYC Transit wrote an exhaustive report about preventing the chaos that ensued after a tornado flooded subways and triggered disruptions and shutdowns across the system. It recommended that the number of dedicated announcers - transit workers who relay delays across stations - should be doubled from the 32 workers now on staff. The manpower boost would help get announcements out faster along more areas of the system, including parts of the No. 1, 2, 5 and 7 lines.

"I think it¹s a terrible mistake," said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign. "They are as integral to the system as the trains and electric power."

The cash-strapped agency is cutting the announcers as it scrambles to fill an $800 million deficit. Dispatchers will still make announcements, though it's possible that fewer will be made, transit president Thomas Prendergast said. The cuts will have no impact on safety, and having one person do a dedicated task isn¹t always "efficient or effective," a transit spokesman said.

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