Clerks Call In 400+ Emergencies A Day

With most of the focus on service cuts stemming from the current budget woes of the MTA, one of the other angles in the situation that needs some attention is the cutting of token booth clerks. The amount of clerks being cut will be up to approximately 500. As one would expect, the potential loss of these clerks has drawn responses from both sides of the aisle.

The initial reaction from the public tends to lean towards how this is a bad choice. These sentiments stem from the thought process of these clerks being a line of defense or a safety mechanism, even though they are not authorized to get involved directly with incidents. The other side of the aisle tends to lean towards the fact that these clerks are not needed & do not provide anything more than a false sense of security.

This past Friday, Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News wrote a report about how MTA token booth clerks relayed information to supervisors about emergencies almost 500,000 times in the last 3 years. Here is a brief sample of his report:

Token booth clerks – whose ranks are being slashed by layoffs – relayed information about subway emergencies nearly 500,000 times in the last three years, the Daily News has learned.

Dealing with everything from sick passengers to suspicious packages to lost children, the clerks used an emergency-only telephone line connecting them to the transit command center an average of 412 times a day last year, data provided by NYC Transit reveal.

Their calls summoned police officers, firefighters, ambulance crews or transit agency workers, depending on the situation.

The MTA is in the process of laying off up to 500 clerks, or station agents, to cut costs. Transit officials insist riders won’t be more vulnerable with fewer workers in the booths, citing the NYPD’s success in driving crime down to historic lows.

But some transit advocates and transit workers insist the MTA is going the wrong way.

“Riders know to go to a booth clerk to ask for help,” Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said. “Now, they’ll have to ask: ‘Who you gonna call when most booth clerks are history?'”

At the MTA board meeting Wednesday, clerk Sabrina Greenwood told board members, “I save lives.”

Click here for the complete report.

When I look at those numbers, I must admit that it does help the case of those who feel these cuts are not that drastic. The average amount of calls considering the size of the system is next to nothing, especially when factoring in daily ridership. I admit that I understand the thought process of many who feel they provide a sense of security as it is human nature. However on the other side of it, I do understand that the sense of security is false in some ways due to the actual policies in place for the clerks.

In this economy, I can certainly feel for the clerks who might end up with no jobs. I also feel that if the MTA is so set on saving money by cutting these positions, they should apply the same principles on the management level. The fact is the way they have the agency structured leaves a lot to be desired. There are plenty of unnecessary positions on the management level that should be cut as well. If it is good for the blue collar part of the agency, it should be good for the white collar as well.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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