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Closing token booths part of MTA's doomsday budget plan

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The MTA's doomsday budget includes closing many subway token booths and eliminating the program that shifted some agents into stations to help riders, the Daily News has learned.

 

Dozens of booths would be shuttered if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approves the plan next month and implements it next year, a source familiar with the document said.

RELATED: MTA PLANNING TINY PAY HIKES AS BUDGET GAP LOOMS

 

Also on the chopping block is the three-year-old Station Customer Assistant program that moved approximately 600 clerks out of their booths to help riders with MetroCard vending machines and directions, the source said.

 

An MTA spokesman refused to comment Friday night.

 

Transit officials have said layoffs are on the table, but it's unclear if those 600 or so agents would get pink slips or be redeployed.

 

"I thought the roving station agents were a success," lamented Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. "They helped the disabled and elderly, provided guidance for confused riders ... and were a reassuring presence."

 

Some riders argued against reducing the number of workers in and around the booths.

 

"They should be there for safety reasons and information because the PA systems don't work," said Balkis Boulanger, 38, of Manhattan.

 

Other straphangers saw an opportunity for savings.

 

"I never use the booths," said Mike Glaser, 30, of Manhattan. "To get rid of them would be a great way to save money, keep the fares down and cut costs."

 

The stations targeted for booth closures have at least two booths, the source said.

 

Every station would still have at least one staffed booth at all times, the source said.

 

Earlier this week, MTA officials said severe budget cuts and fare hikes were unavoidable unless the state bails out the authority with an infusion of cash.

 

The MTA's projected 2009 budget deficit has ballooned to $1.2 billion because of dwindling tax revenues, officials said.

 

The doomsday budget will be presented to the MTA board Thursday.

 

A state commission headed by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch is scheduled to issue a report recommending funding solutions - possibly including East River tolls or a gasoline tax - to Gov. Paterson early next month.

 

Ravitch said the MTA can't get out of the funding crisis by trimming fat.

 

"They should be cutting expenses all the time and they are," he said. "We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars. I don't think you can attribute the problem to a failure of management."

 

BY PETE DONOHUE

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

November 15th 2008

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I feel more unsafe than I did years ago, at some stations. This will not help. (God help those who live in the Rockaways)

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I don't see what's so bad about it if they're closing booths at stations which have two and will then only have one. I guess you do what you have to...

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Closing booths would be a good idea, then again where can the riders go to for help then? I agree that with this plan the subways will be less safe and the stations with less booth workers will cause major security issues such as muggings. :D

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This is a bad idea, unless they place HEETs at the stations they are closing booths at it will be an open door into the subway. If they do this many stations will be very dangerous and I think the city my be forced to spend more money to have police patrol these stations.

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Dont know if anyone saw this part

 

The MTA is also expected to announce plans to completely do away with the "W" train, which runs from Queens to Manhattan, and the "Z" line, which runs through Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

 

Also on the chopping block, service will be cut in half on the "G" line, which runs from Queens to Brooklyn, and the "M" line, which runs through Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.

 

And it doesn't end there. In an effort to close an estimated $1.2 billion budget deficit, there may also be longer gaps between overnight stops on all trains and fewer trains during the late morning and early afternoon hours.

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i think this is a crazy idea to close the booths now that they are shutting down the w and z subway lines (the two i always use to get to work).like come on MTA dont they see there will be more people that will need help to find the right train they are loking for.i say keep the booths.

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Very, very dangerous. This will be like the 70s again. People won't go out at night for fear of being mugged in stations waiting for trains. (Which still happens)

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Very, very dangerous. This will be like the 70s again. People won't go out at night for fear of being mugged in stations waiting for trains. (Which still happens)
Dear god, I hope not.

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I don't see what's so bad about it if they're closing booths at stations which have two and will then only have one. I guess you do what you have to...

 

AIUI, it would be *no* booths at stations which have more letters in their names than riders (143 St - St Mary's St, 21 St - Van Alst, Bushwick/Aberdeen, this means you!)

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This is a bad idea, unless they place HEETs at the stations they are closing booths at it will be an open door into the subway. If they do this many stations will be very dangerous and I think the city my be forced to spend more money to have police patrol these stations.

 

The HEETs are the most cumbersome and annoying thing in the system

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I could see part time 79th St exit adjusted to Museum's Lower Level at 81st St could be cut.

 

Every weekend, museum visitors with strollers are frustrated that not open on weekend.

 

I think MTA should give that part time booth to American Museum of Natural History at all times, so AMNH employee could buzz service gate, so stroller could get in easily.

 

If that part time booth at 79th St got elimated and replace by HEET and MVM, this could anger the Natural History and employe, especially visitors with strollers.

Strollers visting Museum is not happy about that closed on weeked.

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As a Station Agent, I think that the closing of the booths is a bad idea! From my 4 years in transit, i have seen more robberies and assaults happen at those stations that were closed such as Jackson Ave in the Bronx. It is really horrible! The police never respond till an hr later too! sometimes the Police don't get the call until later! So just think, you can be killed and no one may be there to assist you! I am not saying this because there may be layoffs for my title! But I always think about safety first! As a paying customer, you have a right to feel safe in the subway stations! To resolve some of the budget deficit problems, I think that they shouldn't raise the fares to $3. They should open the customer assistant booths back up and keep the Station Agents there! Also they should keep the fares at $2. It also would mean less lines too! Let me know what you think! I could be wrong but it's just a suggestion! No harm intended! :(

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As a Station Agent, I think that the closing of the booths is a bad idea! From my 4 years in transit, i have seen more robberies and assaults happen at those stations that were closed such as Jackson Ave in the Bronx. It is really horrible! The police never respond till an hr later too! sometimes the Police don't get the call until later! So just think, you can be killed and no one may be there to assist you! I am not saying this because there may be layoffs for my title! But I always think about safety first! As a paying customer, you have a right to feel safe in the subway stations! To resolve some of the budget deficit problems, I think that they shouldn't raise the fares to $3. They should open the customer assistant booths back up and keep the Station Agents there! Also they should keep the fares at $2. It also would mean less lines too! Let me know what you think! I could be wrong but it's just a suggestion! No harm intended! :D

I agree.

Whitehouse should take action to help MTA's budget, right?

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Closing down booths is a very bad idea. I remember one time I had a sick Customer at 116 Bway (1) Line during rush Hour. A female passed out and another customer pulled the Emergency Brake Value in the station with the doors open which is the right way to do it. So I investigate and I tryed to reach Control Center on my radio No Responce. I told someone to run upstairs to the booth because I was unable to call for help. I then on the way back to my cab I meet my T/O who also tryed to call for help but his battery just died. So the station agent called for Police and EMS and notified thier station cammand what was happening. Then the ball started rolling help on the way and Control center started to reroute service because all they knew was a (1) train at 116 St not moving and no communication. If there was no station Agent there I would have tryed to find a working pay phone or a systerm phone which would have wasted more time for help to arrive. Ofcause Control center grilled me and my T/O about the communication but we where in the clear since this was before we got new radios where we can monitor our radio power and also found out there was a dead spot at 116 St / Bway since the supervisor with a working radio also could not contact the control center or local tower.

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Those MTA execs in business suits are so aloof that they don't know about the everyday experiences of real subway riders. They have their private limos.

 

I think the MTA execs need to walk in the shoes of the customers as well as the MTA employees that work and use Transit daily! As the saying goes "Experience is the best teacher". So next time, they will think before they make up stupid rules and try to impose ridiculous fare hikes on the customers! In my opinion, they dont bother to try to find out about our everyay experiences. They don't care. Their paychecks is too big for them to care! And last but not least, The MTA execs has never said that they themselves will take a pay cut to close the budget gap! :D

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