Queens straphangers will soon get a chance to voice their opinions about the MTA’s plan to eliminate the jobs of hundreds of subway station agents.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will hold a public hearing July 13 at Colden Auditorium of Queens College, at 65-30 Kissena Blvd., in Flushing at 6 p.m. Those who want to speak must register by 9 p.m. Those registering may call 212-878-7483 or at mta.info at least 24 hours before the hearing.
The Queens hearing is one of four scheduled by the MTA after a judge ruled the layoffs of 463 station agents cannot take place without the agency first holding public hearings.
New York Supreme Court Judge Saliann Scarpulla ruled June 4 that the MTA had violated Public Authorities Law No. 1205 by carrying out layoffs without public hearings.
The MTA plans to lay off more than 200 more station agents in July.
The agency has said it must close the station booths and undertake the layoffs because of a more than $400 million deficit.
The Queens locations where the MTA seeks to reduce hours or close customer assistance facilities are Flushing-Main Street on the No. 7 line, Jamaica Center-Parsons-Archer on the E and J/Z lines and Roosevelt Avenue/Jackson Heights/74th Street/Broadway on the E, F, G, R and V lines.
More than 40 locations in Manhattan are involved in the shutdown proposal, along with 13 in Brooklyn and four in the Bronx.
Elimination of what were formerly called token clerks at certain locations has long been on the MTA agenda, particularly since the advent of the MetroCard, but on a much smaller scale.
But opponents of the layoffs have predicted calamitous consequences if no one is on duty in the subway stations — not only a danger to straphangers. Transit advocates also suggested the situation would invite mass turnstile-jumping.
City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio opposes the layoffs.
“We cannot cut corners when it comes to straphangers’ safety,” de Blasio said at a rally June 10. “New Yorkers who depend on station agents for security and essential services deserve a chance to have their voices heard. The MTA’s new public hearings will only work if they listen to New Yorkers and commit to incorporating their feedback before final decisions get made.”
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledge
©2010 Community News Group
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