One of the biggest inner battles in the world of mass transit in this region is between the MTA & its workforce. One of the specific battles within the bigger picture is the MTA’s desire to cut back on the amount of train conductors. The agency looked to do this in the past but was met with fierce opposition from union leaders & transit advocates who both used safety as a primary concern. The agency backed off on the program at that time.
Now with the agency looking to cut costs in anyway possible, they are once again looking into this program which is sure to get the same critics up in arms & ready to fight. Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has more in this report:
The MTA has quietly revived efforts to run more subway trains without conductors – a controversial cost-cutting move it shelved three years ago, the Daily News has learned.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials have recently discussed expanding the use of a reduced-staffing scheme – called One Person Train Operation, or OPTO. The practice of running trains with a crew of one has been limited for years to a handful of shuttles or lesser lines, like the G, during off-peak hours.
Union officials and some transit advocates contend conductorless trains on busier lines would put riders at greater risk in emergencies, including situations requiring evacuations through tunnels.
“Axing the conductor may save the MTA money, but it comes at the expense of the safety and security of the rider,” Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said.
Rishat Aziz, an 18-year-old student from Astoria, agreed.
“It doesn’t work well together, raising fares and also cutting staff,” said Aziz, after exiting the A train on 34th St. “It will definitely make the subway more dangerous.”
The MTA took conductors off the L line in 2005, but had to put them back after an arbitrator ruled that its contract with Transport Workers Union Local 100 required approval by the union. The following year, the same arbitrator stopped the MTA from taking conductors off G trains on weekdays.
After the second ruling, the MTA stopped putting OPTO plans in its annual budgets and four-year fiscal plans.
Sources told The News that the MTA is again seeking the staffing change as a way to save money.
Click here for the complete report.
The MTA will most likely not get this plan through as the union will fight it tooth & nail. This is one battle where they might have the edge in the court of public opinion depending on how they sell it to the public. While I am for the MTA saving money where possible, I feel they should look elsewhere for cuts before cutting back in this area.
I can already picture those who support this idea as spewing the same anti-union rhetoric that comes from their mouths when things like this are proposed. With people like that, they see MTA workers as being lazy & undeserving of what they get or ask for in terms of financial compensation & health benefits. The outright disrespect of them is evident when you read their reasons as to why programs like this are good for the MTA.
While the potential danger of a conductor-less train might rarely play out if at all, it is not worth risking that chance just to save money. The MTA is bloated & could find legitimate savings elsewhere before resorting to eliminating jobs just to save some cash. Real change has to come from sacrifices from within before asking others to do the same. This is true in all facets of life & the MTA is no different.
xoxo Transit Blogger