Today’s news:

MTA against effort to keep Queens token booths open

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has expressed serious objection to Gov. George Pataki about a legislative law that would maintain operation of 12 Queens subway token booths that the MTA wants to shut down this year.

The MTA plans to close the Queens booths along with others throughout the city in a decision long criticized by transit activists as detrimental to public safety.

MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow said the agency told the governor's office that keeping the booths open was “a very bad idea.”

“We told the governor’s office that we thought it was a very bad for the agency,” Kalikow said following an MTA meeting last week.

Under the law, which had bipartisan support in the Legislature, a three-year moratorium would be placed on the closings while a committee studied the effectiveness of the booths in maintaining security in subway stations.

The MTA says the closings would save nearly $6 million annually.

The MTA plans to shut down nine booths in Queens this month and three more by the end of the year. Citywide, a total of 62 token booths would be shut down by the end of 2003.

Originally, the MTA had planned to close 177 subway booths throughout the subway system but later reduced the number to 62. The TA contends that fewer booths are needed with a majority of subway patrons using MetroCard vending machines.

But opponents of the closings contend the token booths provide much needed security for riders as well as pedestrians who use the underground subway passages along Queens Boulevard to avoid crossing the dangerous thoroughfare.

Pataki’s office said he had yet to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.

At a public hearing at Queens Borough Hall Feb. 19, protests against the plan for closing token booths were nearly as vehement as those against a $2 fare. Transit activists say subway stations would become havens for crime without a human presence to watch and report what goes on.

The TA had planned to close the following booths this month:

Woodhaven Blvd. (J) Hudson St. (A) Rockaway Blvd. (A) 111th St. (A) 63rd Drive (G) 67th Ave. (G) Sutphin Blvd. (F) Parsons Blvd. (F) and Vernon-Jackson (7).

The followed are to be closed by the end of the year:

Woodhaven Blvd. (G) 33rd Street/Rawson (7) and 46th Street/Bliss (7).

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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