May 14, 2000
Testimony of Marvin Rich, representing NYC Americans for Democratic Action, before the Transportation Committee, Community Board #7

I am a resident of 303 West 66th Street.  I am testifying on behalf of the New York City Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, of which I am president. We urge the Transportation Committee to adopt a resolution in opposition to closing token booths in New York City. A suggested resolution from the Keep the Token Booths Open Coalition is attached.

The New York City Transit Authority has proposed to eliminate token booths over a three-year period. They would begin by closing 53 booths. The plan has been delayed by Judge Lebedeff's decision (which has been upheld by the New York State Appellate Court) which would require the Transit Authority "(1) to give public notice, including notice to affected community boards, (2) to conduct public hearing(s), and (3) obtain the approval of its board… The safety of the public is at stake."

We also believe that the safety of the public is at stake. Unfortunately, the Transit Authority has appealed the court decision.
Closing token booths and replacing clerks with high entry / high exit turnstiles and vending machines would seriously restrict access to the subway system and risk the safety of passengers.

Unstaffed stations will be more dangerous. Riders who feel threatened will no longer be able to go to the booth to call 911 or to alert the police.

Aged or disabled riders pushing strollers or baby carriages or carrying bulky packages will have great difficulty with High-Entry/Exit Turnstiles.

Token clerks provide riders with assistance in finding their destinations, getting the right train or the right stop, and handling problems with Metrocards. They provide support for ill passengers. Token clerks provide transfers and other help when service is disrupted. Their presence reduces crime, and provides a sense of security to passengers.

ADA understands that eliminating token booths will save money in the short run. But we believe the cost will be fewer, more disgruntled riders, more accidents, and more crime. We urge Community Board #7 to take a stand against this shortsighted proposal.
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