New York Daily News

Cop Union Onboard vs Booth Closings


March 4, 2005—Police Union boss Pat Lynch yesterday joined the chorus of critics against the Transit Authority plan to close token booths.

Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, said clerks and cops have joined forces over the years to bring crime down to a near-historic low.

"Booth clerks are the anchor that provides a sense of security in the massive subway system," Lynch said on the steps of City Hall with union and elected leaders. "Subway riders rely on the human presence in the booth to get a police officer or medical help when they need it. Closing booths is bad for the subway and it is bad for the city."

The Transit Authority, starting in April, will close 164 token booths throughout the system. The 600 clerks will be deployed outside their kiosks - spending most of their time near the booths, providing riders help with directions, vending machines and turnstiles, the Transit Authority has said.

Critics say that the clerks, who will spend some time roaming stations, will be harder to find in emergencies. And they fear this redeployment will be followed by further cuts in the number of workers in stations.

"Community groups and elected officials should set a watch over their neighborhood booths before they vanish in the dark of night," Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint said.

The Transit Authority issued a statement yesterday saying that having clerks who are not confined to kiosks will improve - not lessen - rider safety.

"It is our belief that an extra set of eyes and ears with the ability to move freely within the station will improve response to incidents at the station, thereby improving safety and security within the station environment," the Transit Authority said.