LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- Officials marked the end of a long chapter in New York City transit history - and the beginning of a new one - in Lower Manhattan on Thursday.
Transit officials and members of the Transit Workers Union Local 100 gathered at the Fulton Center subway station as the MTA announced the reassignment of the city's last remaining token booth clerks.
The 2,000+ employees will be reassigned to work as station agents to support customer service needs more effectively.
They will be able to move out from behind the thick metal-and-glass booths and engage customers directly, officials said.
"To customers, station agents often represent the face of the transit system, dating back to the era of token booths," said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. "By enhancing the station agent role, the era of customer support being offered only through a glass wall has gone the way of the token itself, and agents will be able to connect directly with the riders they're serving."
The booths will stay and will be a place for workers to do paperwork and call authorities if necessary.
Transit officials say it marks the completion of a process that has actually been underway for decades now across the system.
Cash transactions at the booths are a thing of the past with 40% of riders using OMNY, the digital fare payment system.
Reps from TWU Local 100 said it's about job protection.
"Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. This is about protecting the employment of station agents, so they can continue to take care of their families," said TWU Local 100 Vice President Robert Kelley. "We can't sit back and watch our members get phased out along with the MetroCard. We are forging a new path with a new role that makes their presence in stations even more vital."
The MTA will begin to phase in the new station agent role starting in early 2023 and training is currently underway.
Staffing in the token booths has been gradually phased out since the advent of MetroCards and the discontinuation of MTA tokens.
The bronze, coin-shaped tokens, first introduced in 1953, were used by NYC commuters for 50 years until they were finally discontinued in 2003.
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