MTA to eliminate station assistants

September 9, 2009 3:33:09 PM PDT
Attention subway riders. There's a good chance you won't have the help you need. In less than two weeks, hundreds of station customer assistants will be eliminated. It's all part of the MTA's cost-cutting plan.

Jerome Davis will soon hang up his burgundy vest forever. To help balance the Transit Authority's operating budget, the agency will eliminate 282 so-called station customer assistants beginning September 20.

"We help the customers in assisting them with using the machines and entering the system," Davis said.

It was only four years ago when the Transit Authority formally introduced the station customer assistants. Now, subway riders want to them stick around.

"They should keep them here, cause they always help me when I get on the train," rider Terry Bianco said. "If i need to go somewhere, they tell me. Sometimes I don't have a card fare and they let me on."

"A lot of people need access to where they want to go," straphanger Cager McAdoo said. "We have a lot of tourists that come in, and that's important."

Meantime, the Straphangers' Campaign says the Transit Authority has a credibility problem. They say several months ago, the agency indicated if a financial bailout came through, the station customer assistants would survive.

"This is one of reasons why people pull their hair out when they talk about the MTA, because they lead to believe one thing and then another thing happens," the Campaign's Gene Russianoff said. "I thought the station agents would not be cut."

The Transit Authority says the staff reductions will happen through attrition, not layoffs. Furthermore, each station will retain at least one full-time, staffed booth, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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