2003-02-08 / Community

MTA Closures Violate Disabilities Act Says Sen. Smith

MTA Closures Violate Disabilities Act Says Sen. Smith

State Senator Ada L. Smith announced that she will join several of her Senate Democratic colleagues in filing a lawsuit to block the MTA proposal to close token booths.

Under the MTA’s plan, Senator Smith noted, the Authority would leave some booths open. But people in wheelchairs and on crutches would have to travel several blocks to get to an open booth. In some cases there may not be any open booths nearby, making it impossible for them to get on the subway.

"The MTA has made this proposal in light of New York City’s budget crisis. But this is truly a case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. The $8 million saved would be wiped out by one successful lawsuit filed by an injured rider," Senator Smith said.

Senator Smith will be joined in this suit by State Senator Democratic Leader David A. Peterson (D-Manhattan) and Senate Deputy Minority Leader Eric T. Schneiderman (D-Manhattan, Bronx), a former counsel in the Save The Token Booth Coalition.

The Queens lawmaker also stated that the plan would pose a threat to the safety of all subway riders. "It is important that we have clerks present in these booths to act as the eyes and ears of the subway system. The New York Police Department has said that 16 of the token booths slated for closure are on their list of underground crime hot spots. Subway riders should be secure in the knowledge that if they are disabled, hurt or require some other sort of assistance, the MTA personnel will be there for them. This plan removes that security," Senator Smith said.

According to Senator Smith, Senator Paterson has introduced legislation that would create an oversight board for the MTA, and require the Authority to submit a detailed operating budget proposal 30 days before adopting it. The legislation would also amend the Public Authorities law to examine MTA expenses. The bill is part of an effort to keep the MTA from withholding financial information.

Senator Smith added that the MTA will be holding public hearings on its proposal next month in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. "I hope my constituents will make their voices heard," she concluded.

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