MTA Plans To Eliminate Program & Safety Workers

The New York Daily News is still going strong with their “Halt The Hike” campaign. Saturday’s edition of the paper featured an article on the MTA’s plan to eliminate a subway evacuation program along with safety workers. Here is the article courtesy of the New York Daily News as part of their “Halt The Hike” campaign:

The MTA is eliminating a program to help subway riders evacuate in emergencies and closing several token booths – at the same time it is pushing for higher fares.

After the 2005 London subway bombings, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority placed approximately 100 workers in stations to usher riders to safety if needed.

The posts at 20 key hubs are no longer needed because NYC Transit – the MTA’s bus and subway division – has improved subway station exits throughout the system, managers claim.

“Panic bars” have been installed on locked swinging-door gates that lead to sidewalk stairwells.

Riders can unlock the gates themselves and no longer need token booth clerks to open them up, NYC Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said.

The upgrades “add a significant amount of exiting capacity to the system,” he added.

Councilman Peter Vallone, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, accused the MTA of “jeopardizing the lives of their riders” by taking the extra workers from stations.

He added that the safety workers are still needed because riders could be slowed by ceiling-to-floor revolving door turnstiles.

The elimination of the posts are part of the MTA’s preliminary 2008 budget, which has come under fire because it calls for imposing higher fares and tolls next year.

Eliminating the “heightened security coverage” will save the MTA $6.5 million next year, according to the proposed budget.

Closing four booths at three Manhattan stations, and eliminating 11 clerk positions, will save more than $730,000, according to the plan.

Critics contend the MTA can do a much better job of finding fat that can and should be cut.

All told, the MTA’s “Program to Eliminate the Gap” for next year calls for $50 million in savings, including not filling some vacancies or leaving posts unfilled. That’s less than one-half of 1% of the $10.8 billion budget plan.

“It is important for the MTA to continue to explore opportunities to reduce its spending and limit costs without adversely affecting services,” said state Controller Thomas DiNapoli.

This might come as a surprise to some but I am not against the elimination of this program & its safety workers. In a time where the MTA is desperate for cash, I see this program as a waste. I know some will say what about emergencies or bring up the biggest fall back crutch of all time 9/11, I say to them sit down & think for a minute.

Can you really justify the costs of this program along with the employees involved with it? Why should should the MTA spend millions of dollars for this when it can be spent better elsewhere? Do we really need to have a dedicated amount of workers to help in case of an emergency? Why can’t the current fleet of personnel working on the bus & train do the job?

If you sit down & think about it, emergency situations should be a legitimate part of their job description. They are the first line of defense & should be trained as such. Instead of spending money on wasteful posts, spend the money elsewhere for legitimate projects such as increased training to the personnel who are our first line of defense. If you properly train the current personnel who are the first line of defense in all aspects of emergency protocols, you not only make things safer for all riders, you also save money on needless jobs. Last I check wasn’t the MTA spending money on extended training for current personnel anyway?

We are in a new world when it comes to the MTA & its finances, here is one plan that showcases a vision to better maximize available resources while saving money. Instead of automatically saying no, this is a bad idea or championing against it to score points with your constituents, look at the bigger picture & understand how this is actually a good idea. Will it cure all of their financial woes? No, it won’t but it can be a good start & hopefully it will get better as we move forward.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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[…] days ago, I wrote about the MTA’s plan to eliminate an evacuation program along with approximately 100 emergency workers. As I & others expected, critics have come out panning the MTA’s plans. Yesterday, […]

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