Thompson Blasts Plan to Eliminate Subway Agents, Claims Study Finds Them Helpful


One of the ways the MTA wants to cut costs is by taking station agents out of the subways. This doesn’t go over well with community groups, nor with insecure riders who find themselves on lonely platforms in the wee hours — nor, really, with much of anyone except bean-counters.

Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson has been long opposed to cutting the agents, and today he claims that the MTA’s internal study justifying the cuts is bogus.

He says the MTA study seemed to have a preordained goal of “demonstrating that the program is a failure.” Thompson’s office did its own study, and found agents helping passengers every three minutes…

While the MTA thinks a drop in subway felonies helps justify the cuts, Thompson counters that their numbers don’t take into account misdemeanors like harrassment, as seen in the recent case of the subway butt-slapper and various masturbators. (We would also note that the guy who pulled off 14 robberies on the trains all by himself is still at large.)

Second Avenue Sagas says the agents mostly give “the illusion of safety,” as was dramatically illustrated in 2005 when a woman was raped on a G train platform while booth agents failed to assist, claiming the rules restricted them to their posts even during assaults on passengers.

Maybe we can strike a compromise: keep some of the agents, but empower them to do something when passengers are being raped, robbed, and/or beaten. Or else get the cops who hang out in the subways to help passengers as well as (or maybe instead of) threatening to search their backpacks.