The MTA's slogan is "Going Your Way," but for employees of the agency, that "way" could be to the unemployment line.
In an effort to clamp down budget deficits, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced today that it will lay off more than 1,000 positions.
In a press release the agency said they would begin "with the elimination of more than 600 represented and non represented administrative position.. [and] begin the process of laying off up to 500 NYC Transit station agents."
The administrative positions represent 15 percent of the entire administrative payroll across the MTA, and the deepest cuts are coming at headquarters.
“The State’s economic crisis demands that the MTA move quickly and decisively to cut costs, and that is exactly what we are doing,” said Jay H. Walder, MTA Chairman and CEO. “These layoffs are extremely painful, but we must live within our means and make the tough decisions that businesses and families across New York are making.”
Earlier this month the State Budget Office announced tax revenues were coming in short. The losses leave the MTA with a huge deficit of up to $400 million for this year and up to 200 million dollars for next year.
The recent shortfalls come on top of budget gaps the agency was already trying to plug by cutting bus and subway service and eliminating free rides for students. The potential job cuts are expected to save the MTA about 50 million dollars.
The role of station agents has really changed over the years -- with the introduction of metro-cards many agents now primarily serve as customer service reps.
Strap hangers we spoke to had mixed feelings about losing them. Many acknowledged that the average commuter can do without them, but others pointed out that tourists and special needs or elderly riders often depend on the services they provide. Many also expressed concerns about stations being left unattended in potential emergency situations.
The MTA has long planned to cut the number of agents. Last fall the agency announced plans to reduce staff through attrition but now it seems they can't afford to wait.
In terms of preventing the layoffs, the administrative and managerial workers whose jobs are at stake are not in a union, but the agents are represented by the Transit Workers Union. The TWU president has said the union would fight the move.