Pols: Slashing station agents makes for unsafe subways
Transit groups and some city officials are blasting the MTA's plan to shrink the number of station agents roving the system, saying the cut saves little money while putting riders at risk.
In an average year, the red-vested station agents signal for emergency responders 85 times per station, according to the most recent data available from the Straphangers Campaign.
All the statistics in the world about crime being down is not going to take that fear and concern (about security) away, said Bobbie Sackman, an advocate with the Council of Senior Center and Services.
Last week, the MTA announced it was looking to reduce its 570 station agents through attrition. Officials said the move was necessary to help fill a $200 million hole in its budget not covered by Albanys $2.3 billion bailout.But it would take years for the agency to reap the roughly $50 million in savings it estimated would come from eliminating the agents entirely, advocates say.
MTA officials have said that the station agents do not directly impact service, though a 2005 NYC Transit press release heralding the new program called it a renewed commitment to customer service.
An agent who gives you a map or directions - if that's not direct service, what is it? asked Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign.
The MTA, which declined to comment Sunday, has stated that one full-time token clerk would remain on duty at all times in each station.
Opponents of the plan will protest Monday outside the No. 6 stop at 77th Street. Among the protesters will be City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who decried the move in a letter his office will send to the MTA board chair Monday morning.
Service includes much more than how often a subway arrives, the letter states.
Additionally, Thompson is looking into the MTA's budget to determine if the upcoming fare increase and service cuts were appropriate, a spokesman said.
The MTA board is likely to vote on the cut later this month.