MTA Staff Cuts May Boost Transit Trash
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is warning that the agency's budget cuts will result in fewer subway workers and decreased cleanliness. NY1's Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.
People may complain about conditions in the subway now, but anyone who lived in the city in the 1970s can say the situation underground is way better now than it was then. Dirty trains, dirty platforms and cars riddled with graffiti were the norm as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wrestles with a budget crisis.
Fast forward 30 years, and there are warnings the city is in for more of the same. MTA officials say a thousand jobs are on the chopping block.
"There will be some impact. You may notice in some cases that the subway car is a little bit dirtier than it was before," said MTA spokesperson Jeremy Soffin. "Not to minimize the impact of these things because the impact will be noticed by customers, but I think that when you're faced with choices, these are some of the things we thought had lower impact than other choices."
Soffin said the MTA's intention was to limit the impact on riders to the extent possible but the agency is trying to close an $800 million budget shortfall.
Riders who spoke with NY1 were not sympathetic.
"That's a bad idea. Just discouraging people from riding the train," said one straphanger.
The cuts include subway station announcers, train cleaners, ticket agents on the commuter rails and clerical and administrative staff. A program designed to replace windows targeted with scratchiti will also be scrapped.
"It's just going to make it worse," said a commuter. "That's my opinion, it's just going to make it worse."
Some riders were more worried about garbage, while others were more worried about their safety.
"Now it's safe enough to go alone, and to go safely from one line to another. So if it will be less people in the station, I think it will really touch our security and our confidence," said a rider.
The staffers who will be affected are members of the Transport Workers' Union.
"When you cut down on the cleaners, you cut down on service, on quality of life issues," said TWU Secretary-Treasurer Israel Rivera. "You've got areas that may not have proper lighting and then you have the vermin, you have rats infested in subways and water coming in. That's not going to be addressed. It's not being addressed now, so how is it going to be addressed?"
Rivera called on bus and subway riders to step up and be involved before it's too late, although it may already be too late to change the MTA's decisions.