Cash is no longer king at the subway’s token booths.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said Wednesday that booth workers — who once handled thousands of cash and fare transactions each day — will no longer accept riders’ cash or swap their damaged MetroCards.
Hand-to-hand transactions were banned at the booths in March 2020 as transit honchos feared they put workers at risk of catching COVID-19. Now officials say that shift will be made permanent.
“We currently do not plan to resume cash transactions in the booths,” MTA chief safety officer Pat Warren said during a news conference.
Warren said OMNY — the MTA’s tap-and-pay fare system that will fully replace MetroCards by the end of 2023 — means the authority will no longer need workers in booths to assist riders with cash transactions.
Straphangers can still use cash to pay for MetroCards at automated vending machines in subway stations. The vending machines will eventually be replaced with OMNY machines that also take cash.
Token booth workers will also no longer swap out MetroCards that are damaged or expired. MTA officials said riders with damaged MetroCards will have to mail them in or go to the agency’s customer service center in lower Manhattan to get replacements.
Transport Workers Union Local 100 president Tony Utano — who represents a majority of the MTA’s workforce — feared the move away from cash was a step towards cutting the booth worker positions entirely.
“Not having cash transactions at subway booths is an inconvenience, and an insult, to subway riders,” said Utano. “Station agents alert the police on behalf of crime victims, summon ambulances for injured and sick riders [and] report suspicious, menacing and dangerous behavior.”
The MTA is making a huge mistake.
Actually, a really fucking huge mistake, but in all honesty what else can they do? It was only over a year ago the MTA announced that they needed over 50 billion dollars to fix the subway and then the COVID-19 pandemic happened which inevitably led to devastating financial losses from low ridership. And now the transit system is broke.