Thursday September 17, 2009 6:46 PM By Heather Haddon
Starting Sunday, fewer red-vested station agents will roam the subways, a safety concern for many straphangers.
“You don’t feel secure without them,” said rider Bethania Cordero at the Manhattanville 135th Street station on the B and C lines, which is losing the agent on the uptown side.
In an effort to save the cash-strapped agency $52 million a year, the MTA will eliminate 772 of its 3,300 station agent posts and shutter 158 booths throughout the system. However, each station will have one token booth clerk on duty at all times, and already, signs have been posted throughout the system telling riders to call the on-duty clerk through an intercom if they need help.
Union officials and straphangers said agents will be missed most at busy transit hubs and shopping districts, where they have been known to open doors for riders carrying packages, and at desolate stops and stations near schools, where their presence acts as a safety measure for those travelling late at night or for children commuting on their own.
“God forbid we find out how valuable the agents are when someone gets hurt,” said Jonathan Beatrice, a transit union representative.