Buried deep in the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s proposed budget cuts are suggestions to close part-time and several full-time service booths — a move that could save the $10.8-billion agency millions, but could also compromise safety of its passengers by depriving riders of another set of eyes and ears late at night.
“I don’t like [the idea] at all — I get very uncomfortable if no one’s at the post late at night,” said Park Slope resident Jerry Robinson, who was waiting at the Union Street M- and R-train station, whose full-time southbound booth would be closed entirely. “There’s not enough cops on the subway already, so for the MTA to take away the people in the booths in unacceptable.”
The cash-strapped transit agency has said it has a $1.4-billion budget gap and has proposed eliminating 205 booths — 33 of which are in Brooklyn — from 144 stations citywide.
“[These proposed cuts are] part of the service reductions in the [MTA] budget,” said agency spokesman Kevin Ortiz, noting that the measures will be enacted in the spring barring a fiscal or political miracle.
“These are measures that we hope not to implement,” he added.
The proposal also calls for shutting the full-time booth at the High Street A- and C-train station, near Red Cross Place, in Downtown; and the Montague Street entrance to the Court Street M and R station.
There are also several part-time booths that will be cut entirely, including booths at:
• the Metrotech end of the A, C and F station at Jay Street in Downtown;
• the west side of Flatbush Avenue entrance to the Bergen Street 2, 3 station;
• the southbound F and G station entrance at Bergen Street;
• the northbound entrance to the Carroll Street F- and G-train station, along the northbound platform at President Street;
• the entrance to the Borough Hall 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains at Court and Joralemon streets.
Ortiz estimated that the staffing cuts would save the agency $9.1 million.
At least one full-time attendant will still be in each station — though sometimes in stations with no northbound-southbound transfer.
“It would make me feel unsafe,” said Alex Pappas. “I can’t afford to not ride the trains — but I might invest in a can of Mace.”
Others, of course, cheered the MTA for closing the so-called “token booths.”
“Ever since they phased out tokens, these workers do nothing at all,” said one disgruntled rider who requested anonymity. “They can’t sell you a Metrocard and they’re bitter. They’re the worst public face for the MTA. They should just be fired.”
The MTA will hold a public hearing on all its proposed cuts on Jan. 28 at 6 pm at the Brooklyn Marriott (333 Adams St., between Willoughby and Tillary streets in Downtown). Call (212) 878-7483 to pre-register to speak. Shoe-throwers are not welcome.