Despite concerns, 478 station agents to soon vanish from the system
MTA Station Agent, Edward Noyes at his 23rd street E station post. (Andrew Hinderaker)
Don’t be surprised if your neighborhood token booth clerk is not there Thursday morning.
Some 15 percent of station agents — or 478 of them — will be laid off Thursday and their booths shuttered as part of the MTA’s plan to save $21 million annually.
“I’m 75 years of age and I have a mortgage to pay,” said Edward Noyes, a worker being removed from his post at the 23rd Street station on the E line.
The MTA has targeted a cut in the number of the red-vested agents as one of the measures it is taking to alleviate the $450 million deficit it is facing this year. The agents provide help to riders — everything from opening gates to rescuing those stuck in elevators.
“I don’t feel safe because if something happens to me, there’s nobody there to notice,” said Carmen Diaz, 67, a Bronx straphanger.
Transit unions pressed state officials for an eleventh hour bailout for the workers Wednesday, but no additional cash had been secured as of press time, officials said.
Crooks already have been capitalizing on fewer eyes and ears in the stations. On Saturday, criminals repeatedly jammed a MetroCard machine at a Herald Square subway entrance where an agent was recently removed, union officials said. The troublemakers were trying to force straphangers to buy fares from them.
MTA officials have assured riders that all stations will have one clerk on duty at all times, and said that 2,650 station agents will remain in the system.
The loss of the station agents has become a security concern because of a rash of high-profile crimes in the subways. Major crimes were up by 2 percent in March compared to figures from March 2009, according to NYPD data.
(Taneish Hamilton contributed to this story)
A day in the lifeSource: NYC Transit
Here's a glimpse of what subway station agents dealt with last Sunday:
- Alerted authorities to two riders who were assaulted, one who was being sexually harassed, five who fell, and nine who were sick.
- Reported four suspicious packages.
- Assisted a dozen riders who were stuck in four elevators.