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Transit chief gets an earful from B'klyn riders

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Transit chief gets an earful from B'klyn riders

By Allison Fox and Pete Donahue


The head of NYC Transit got notes from the underground last night, meeting straphangers in a rare face-to-face in a Brooklyn station.


Agency President Howard Roberts set up shop in the Atlantic Ave. hub and - under the watchful eye of a contingent of cops - took questions and comments from about 40 riders between 5 and 6:30 p.m.


Brooklyn grandmother Carolyn Lemon had a few gripes.


"A lot of the stations are ragged," she told Roberts disapprovingly.


Lemon then recounted her experience with a rude conductor who tried to close the train doors as she was ushering three young grandchildren aboard.


When she complained, he told her, "Shut the hell up and get in the train," Lemon said.


"I didn't appreciate being treated like that," she said.


Other top managers from various NYC Transit divisions also were on hand to hear from riders.


One group of particularly frustrated commuters took full advantage of the meet-and-greet, part of a new Metropolitan Transportation Authority customer service initiative.


More than a dozen disabled riders in wheelchairs told Roberts about broken elevators, defective bus lifts and other mass transit troubles.


There were plenty of promises to look into individual problems and get back to riders with answers.


Roberts and the other officials appeared to have made a good impression.


"I think he's going to try and change things," Lemon said. "You can just look at a person and see that they are sincere."


Michael Harris, executive director of the Disabled Riders Coalition, also was hopeful.


"We're pleased they allowed riders to give feedback to top management in an environment where we felt our opinions really mattered," he said.


Roberts said he'd be back for other underground sessions.


"I'm hearing a lot of good comments and information," he said. "It's a lot better to hear it directly from riders."

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