Judge Blocks MTA Layoffs

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Today was supposed to be the day that laid-off MTA station agents turn in their uniforms, but WNYC’s Matthew Schuerman has confirmed that a judge issued an injunction last night blocking the move. He joins us live from the courthouse where a hearing is set to take place.


Matthew Schuerman

Comments [50]

Amy from Manhattan

Most of the station agents I've dealt with have been competent, helpful, & friendly. Aside from the fact that no machine can replace that kind of human interaction, I often have >1 Metrocard w/less than 1 full fare left over on them. I can take them to the booth & have the agent combine them onto 1 card & add my cash payment (to get the 10% bonus that makes the total not a simple multiple of fares). The machines don't have the ability to pull the funds off 1 card & add them to another.

May. 07 2010 12:33 AM

See Something Say Something: I see a transit system that needs to be overhauled from the ground up and the top down: the vast majority of booth clerks are negative. With the exception of 2% or less they are the most useless representatives of NYC that tourists/residents have to encounter on a daily basis. You can sense it immediately upon approaching to ask a question.

Majority of the agents behave as if they possess the "key" to the majic kingdom, and that they're doing the riding public a favor by merely showing up. An attitude that would surely not exist without: 1)union protection and 2) that bullet proof air conditioned aquarium.

I avoid the booth clerk at all costs, as I learned in '04 when I was assaulted and requested the booth clerk to call 911/transit police etc. before the guy could make it to the front of his line and purchase a token and run into the subway @ Woodhaven R station. As I'd come to the front of the line and asked the customer waiting if I could make this quick request to the clerk to which she said yes, only to have the so called "eyes and ears" clerk instruct me to wait in line like everybody else, this after the MTA bus driver refused to get involved although the incident occurred on his bus. So NO I have no empathy with the ground level MTA workers: apathetic/unkempt/inarticulate/frustrating/surly basically unpleasant, maybe the post office will take them.

I only purchase metrocards from the vending machines or neighborhood stores, anywhere except from the station clerk!

May. 06 2010 05:03 PM
Amanda from Brooklyn

I live in Brooklyn Heights and often ride the R train to the Court St. stop, at the Clinton St. end of the station. Some months ago, not only was the token booth closed and the agent disappeared, but within a couple of weeks of closure the entire token booth was swept away. There is no trace of it on the cement floor.

What happens to this abandoned station if agents are reinstated?

May. 06 2010 12:00 PM

i am lucky to live in the greatest city on earth!

May. 06 2010 11:04 AM
SamP from Brooklyn

I've been living in NYC for 5 years now and the overwhelming majority of subway station booth agents are not helpful and surprisingly rude. I mean not being of service is one thing but to have a quick temper and insult my physical appearance or ask me if I'm "hard of hearing" when those booth microphones are impossible to decipher is just way too much.

This is unfortunate because they could be of great service both by providing information and an extra layer of security and safety to riders. Alas, this is way too often not the case.

The agents have always given me the feeling that they don't want to be there and I think they have no one to thank but themselves for the lay offs. Or rather, they didn't make much of a case for their jobs.

I won't be as crass as some other people on this board but I will say good riddance.

May. 06 2010 10:56 AM
The Truth from Becky

HJS - then you've been lucky my friend.

Caroline - grow up, no one is saying they need a subserviant attitude just plain old fashioned courtesy will do.

May. 06 2010 10:51 AM

Ugh! This is the only service cut I didn't mind. I'm not blaming the station agents for being useless, but when 99% of your job is to tell people to use the ticket machines or read the signs, there is something wrong.

May. 06 2010 10:50 AM

twice every day, some times thrice.

May. 06 2010 10:42 AM

Once again, people show themselves to be incredibly classist when it comes to MTA employees. They should be grateful to have a job? Maybe they should bow to everyone who berates them and swears at them, too. They have long hours, on their feet, and they really do help a lot of people, and take a lot of crap besides. Guess what, rich New Yorkers, you're not entitled to be super-served at every turn.

May. 06 2010 10:40 AM
Emily from Harlem

My mom uses a walker so she needs agents to let her in when she visits. She was amazed how generally nice New Yorkers were. Here one exception was an MTA station agent (though most were nice and quick to let her through the handicapped entrance).

Someone mentioned that they were underpaid (though based on most people's experience it doesn't seem they deserve more than minimum wage). Does anyone know how much they make? My understanding is that they earn more than City prosecutors, who work hard each day and usually have a substantial student loan debt (and are also subject to layoffs, the criminals will have a field day knowing the shortage of ADAs means no one will be able to punish their behaviors).

May. 06 2010 10:38 AM
SteveH from Brooklyn/Manhattan

Problems with any company or organization can be directly traced to management.
It would seem many who work in the public service sector fail to realize their work is supposed to be a service to the public.
Too bad MTA employees, officials and advisors don't have to rely on and pay for public transportation.
In the case of the MTA, to it's customers and employees, they have consistently demonstrated an insincere, inept and dishonest style of management. Why should it's lower or middle level employees have any respect for management or customers?

I am always amazed when treated well by MTA employees.

May. 06 2010 10:35 AM
The Truth from Becky

HJS - ride the subway much? I am gonna go out on a limb and guess, no.

May. 06 2010 10:34 AM

You're right hjs11211, we should get cut the seniors first

May. 06 2010 10:33 AM
The Truth from Becky

Man the booth with NYPD. Not security guards with flashlights or the situation would be the same.

I think the people from all over NY have spoken here and it can't all be coincidence.

May. 06 2010 10:33 AM

go ahead keep beating up the little guys while the big wigs at MTA headquarters are snug as a bug in a rug.
u people are drones.

May. 06 2010 10:31 AM
Tommy from Manhattan

These NYC Station Agents are fat, lazy and rude. Sorry, folks... clean out your desks. Bye bye

May. 06 2010 10:28 AM
lanvy from fleetwood

why should boothwarmers deserve a pension??? I can maybe see an argument for police or firefighters but definitely not for MBTA workers

May. 06 2010 10:27 AM
Karen from NYC

Meant to type, "I'm a white woman," not "I'm a white."

May. 06 2010 10:26 AM
Vanessa Roe from Prospect Heights

I'd hate to lose our 7th ave & grand army plaza agents - familiar faces, very helpful!

But why does nobody mention that the MTA virtually GAVE Atlantic Yards to Ratner? (20 million now, the rest, ...ummm ...sometime?)
How many jobs could 150 million save?

May. 06 2010 10:26 AM

The station agents are glorified welfare bums. The idea that they prevent kids from jumping the turnstiles is an absolute JOKE. They will not confront fare evaders. If fare evasion is that big of a problem, then either replace the turnstiles or provide real police. The idea that they are 'eyes and ears' is ridiculous. Did a station agent notify the police during the failed Times Square bombing? This is simply union featherbedding.

May. 06 2010 10:26 AM
Nancy from Harlem

I would prefer to see the money spent on the system then wasted on agents who provide very little in terms of security or service.

May. 06 2010 10:25 AM
cwebba from Astoria, NY

My subway entrance is Astoria Blvd., and the attendants there are very friendly.

I've been asking for month for the swipe-tool to check the money on my metro card be fixed. It has been out of order for over six months.

Not only do I favor keeping the existing attendants, but I say fight for more so that the subways can re-open the bathrooms that were closed in the '60s. Mayors have been promising more bathrooms in NYC for year with no delivery!

May. 06 2010 10:25 AM
Zora from Astoria

Not a life-saving situation or anything, but I was recently helping eight Italian tourists buy 7-day Metrocards with cash, during rush hour. If there hadn't been a station agent to do this in a single transaction, we would've been clogging up the machines for ages.

May. 06 2010 10:25 AM
Karen from NYC

96th and Broadway, a number of years back. The token clerk pushed my dollar bills back through the window, stating, "These are crumpled. I don't have to take these." "What are you talking about?" I asked. "I don't have to straighten out your damned money," she said.

Not a joke. Thereupon ensued a lively debate about how a City employee should address a citizen. Thinly veiled racial slurs -- by the clerk, toward me (I'm a white) -- followed.

Maybe she was having a bad day. I reported her to MTA, and I'm not sorry.

May. 06 2010 10:25 AM
Telegram Sam

Really hard to have sympathy for station agents. EVERY SINGLE TIME I've seen them interact with riders, they range from apathetic to hostile. I've seen plenty of them sleeping, reading, chatting, playing guitar (seriously) in their booths. Lost tourists are yelled at or ignored. Outside the booths, they chat with each other or friends like it's a cocktail party. They make women with strollers and handicapped people wait, moving to the buzzer as slowly as possible. When there's a problem with service, they never have information or seem to have any interest in obtaining them. Put trained security or - better - NYPD in stations instead.

May. 06 2010 10:23 AM
Calvin from brooklyn

Stimulus Money is for Capital construction ONLY. The 2 Billion is mandatory towards capital construction.

May. 06 2010 10:23 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Station agents do darn near nothing most of the time and then give you attitude, and typically for me wrong information, when you do ask them to do something.
They can’t see the platform because they’re set back from the tracks in many stations so the security argument is moot. They don’t even know the service schedule; I’ve been told express trains are local when running express and vice versa.
All they do is read a book or chit chat with co-workers then act disturbed when you ask a question so why have them.
MTA employees are the most rag-tag bunch of unprofessional I come into regular contact with in this city. There are some good employees of the MTA, but they seem few and far between. The motormen are much much better than the station agents, but still.
And if they don't want to sit on their butts in conditioned well protected booths for 8 hours then quit.

May. 06 2010 10:22 AM
Robert from NYC

Well then if they get that way in the booth they shouldn't be doing that job. I've experienced both the nasty and the very nice and I do go to the booth in order that people keep their jobs. I see everyone at the machines and I alone at the booth. Oddly on agent tole me to use the booth! But the MTA should send "checkers" as customers to find out who's naughty and who's nice, like Santa Claus does.

May. 06 2010 10:22 AM
Brian from Brooklyn

Station agents are utterly useless. Rude, unhelpful, and lazy. However, their absence would no doubt create a feeling of insecurity. The solution? Get rid of station agents and hire private security guards.

May. 06 2010 10:21 AM
Nancy downtown

I always buy the MetroCard from station agents, because the MetroCard machines don't ever seem to take cash any more. By paying with a credit card, Big Brother can tell every ride you take. You can call me paranoid, but I'm just not comfortable with that loss of privacy. Plus, I like having the human presence of a token clerk when I'm in a lonely subway station.

May. 06 2010 10:21 AM

When did the glass booths first arrive? There must have been a time when they were open booths. Is it really that unsafe that ALL stations need to have glass enclosures? I think removing the glass in safe stations would make a world of difference for how we relate to the station attendants.

May. 06 2010 10:21 AM
bub from brooklyn

they are without a doubt necessary, i can't imagine what would happen without them, so many reasons to keep them. since the mta is so often messed up, they are the only link to information. countless times, it is the agent that has informed the masses on the morning commute that there are no trains due to a problem. also, silly things, like forgetting my phone and needing to run up for a minute and getting buzzed back in before the 18 minute unlimited interval is up. bikes, strollers, luggage, safety, directions...necessary!
however, i heard a rumor that station agents aren't allowed to call nypd, only mta police. i've heard of many agents witnessing muggings and assaults and unable to get an outside line to assist, is this true?

May. 06 2010 10:21 AM
Dorothy from NYC

In my experience, the station agents are rarely helpful . It seems to be an inconvenience for them to refill your card or give you directions. I'd much rather have it automated.

May. 06 2010 10:21 AM
The Truth from Becky

They can add call boxes and buttons to summon help. They can add a wide door and ramps for the handicapped.

May. 06 2010 10:21 AM
Virginia from Bronx

The station agents and conductors are like flight attendants--they are on-site first responders and way underappreciated until something really important is at stake. I for one feel less safe with no human presence in the stations where they've been removed. Transit cops do not fill the void; they're not a permanent presence in any given station.

May. 06 2010 10:20 AM
Holly from Brooklyn

I just want to say that a few years ago there was a rape on the G train and the station agent did nothing to help the victim. Maybe they called MTA security or the police but did not much else (I don't remember correctly) The agent was even cleared of responsibility because it wasn't their job. I've seen fights break out and the agents not even react.

That doesn't make me feel safe. What's the point having a person there if they don't care at all?

May. 06 2010 10:20 AM
Nick in NYC from Inwood

Issues of customer service and efficiency aside - what about security?

You're in a station, there's a problem - a mugging, a medical situation, and there is no cell phone service...

... and there is nobody there to make the connection by radio/phone to NYPD?


The customer service issues are real, but the solution is to hire new and capable people.

May. 06 2010 10:20 AM
GradMontreal from Canada

I guess the transit workers are rude and feel entitled to their jobs and now have very bad press.

Too bad that the MTA allowed them to breed such an arrogant yet underpaid workforce.

What can we do to fix this?

May. 06 2010 10:20 AM

The station agents and conductors are like flight attendants--they are on-site first responders and way underappreciated until something really important is at stake. I for one feel less safe with no human presence in the stations where they've been removed. Transit cops do not fill the void; they're not a permanent presence in any given station.

May. 06 2010 10:19 AM
Abby Perez from Brooklyn

I've only had horrible experiences with station agents- they are often rude and not helpful.

May. 06 2010 10:19 AM
Tom from Upper West Side

If station agents are to be kept, they should actually do some work. I can't tell you how many times I have witnessed station agents ignore customers' requests and let turnstile jumpers commit their crimes!

May. 06 2010 10:17 AM
The Truth from Becky

Won't miss 'em, they are rude as hell anyways. They never behaved like they appreciated having jobs in the first place.

May. 06 2010 10:17 AM
Lena from Queens

Station agents are not security; this is a make-work position serving no purpose other than to burn taxpayers money.

May. 06 2010 10:16 AM
eastvillage from eastvillage

Safety question: The full body turnstiles, what happens if someone gets stuck and there is no station agent to help?

May. 06 2010 10:15 AM
RLewis from Bowery

the guys is right. my subway has the regular waist-high turnstiles, and there is never anyone working there. people can just slide or jump right by. how much money is the city losing???

but I'd never trust a station agent to do anything about it... or to catch a terrorist.

May. 06 2010 10:14 AM
Brooklynite from Brooklyn

Since the metrocard, I haven't seen the token booth clerks do ANYTHING. The few times I've ever tried to get help from one, they are always too busy on their phones to do anything.

May. 06 2010 10:14 AM
Jamal from Bklyn

I don't think station agents listen to public radio.

May. 06 2010 10:13 AM
Anne from Manhattan

If you lay off the station agents, how are people going to get on the subway in a wheelchair? Isn't accessibility a legal requirement ?

My dad is in a wheelchair and it's bad enough that the elevators are broken half of the time. Now what?

May. 06 2010 10:12 AM
Jamison from Fort Green

Have you ever tried to ask them a question?
Both people are pissed that the world, when there not sleeping.
Wast of money in my book!

May. 06 2010 10:10 AM
GradMontreal from Canada

When is the subway gonna come to Flatlands?

May. 06 2010 09:45 AM

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