Residents Protest Token Booth Plan
By PATRICK BUTLER
The MTA's plan to close token booths at stations throughout the city was protested earlier this month at the Bedford Park D-train station. Organized by the Bedford Park Neighborhood Alliance (BPNA) and members of the Transport Workers Union, local residents charged that eliminating token booth clerks, who are in the stations all day and night, would threaten riders' safety.
"What do you do when someone has a heart attack, a stroller gets dragged in a subway or you need a human being to get service?" asked Councilwoman June Eisland, who is running for borough president. "It makes sense to have a person there to help."
Although a judge temporarily halted the plan as the Norwood News went to press, the MTA intends to phase out token booth clerks over the next few years. One of the first slated to experience clerk-free service is the Bedford Park D-train station.
MetroCard machines are supposed to fill the gap. "The MetroCard is fantastic," Eisland said, "but don't replace a man or woman with a machine." At the rally, many held signs that said "Endangered species, Token Booth Clerks" and chanted, "MTA -not going our way."
"It's three blocks people have to walk if they close off that entrance," said Myra Goggins, a member of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, referring to a proposal to close off the entrance at 203rd Street and the Grand Concourse. Goggins also blasted the MTA's plan to have "floating" agents pick up the slack. "They have no idea how the floating agent will work," she said. "They are totally rudderless."
During the rally, members of BPNA collected signatures for a petition and also asked riders what they thought about the closing of the booths. While the chanting continued, some people coming out of the station declined to sign or just walked past the protesters.
"They'll see," said Medori Jewett, one of those opposed to the MTA plan. "Computers can make errors just like people can."
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