The MTA says it will close 45 subway part-time token (metrocard) booths on August 17th and an additional 17 by the end of the year. Citing safety concerns, the Transport Workers Union has filed against the MTA to stop the closures. The Straphangers Campaign says it will take similar action against the MTA by the end of the month.
Governor Pataki vetoed a bill last week that would have banned the closing of booths. So, unless the union or straphangers can get an injunction, this looks like a done deal. The initial 62 closures are only the tip of the iceberg. Eventually, all booths will be phased out in favor of roving station agents.
Safety is usually the first issue that comes up when talking about booth closures. Rightfully so, but what about accessibility? Without an agent, who is going to open the service entry gate for passengers that need it? Turnstiles are not designed to let wheelchairs, strollers, large packages or bicycles pass. Anyone who has had to contend with a locked service gate near a closed booth knows first hand what kind of a problem this can be.