Home Asides MetroCard turnstile readers as the next labor battle ground

MetroCard turnstile readers as the next labor battle ground

by Benjamin Kabak

As part of the collateral damage from the MTA’s decision to shutter station booths and axe station agents, MetroCard readers in the subway turnstiles are getting cleaned less often, says The Post, and labor officials are making it a point of contention with the MTA. According to Janet Roth’s brief report, station agents used to clean the readers daily with an alcohol-based cleaning solution on a dummy card, but with fewer agents to clean the slots, straphangers might notice more reader errors. The MTA told The Post that station chiefs and cleaners are to do these daily cleanings, but union officials are telling the cleaners that cleaning isn’t part of their job.

This sort of funny, sort of predictable story leads me to two conclusions: First, the riding public yet again comes out the losers in this battle between a cost-cutting agency and its employee unions. Second, when the MTA finally implements a contact-less fare payment system, this petty argument won’t matter any longer.

You may also like


transit rider July 26, 2010 - 12:58 pm

This tells me that the MTA has failed the riding public and its time for New Yorkers stand up and take back its public transit system. The folks in the so-called MTA Board are nothing more than a bunch of money hungry big shots who don’t care about the folks who ride the subways and buses day in and day out.

Its time to take back our city public transit system. Its time to get ride of the MTA.

Kid Twist July 26, 2010 - 1:15 pm

There are always some people who love to say stuff like this. I guess it sounds good to the rabble at left-wing rallies. But please explain to me: How exactly are the members of the MTA board “money-hungry bigshots?” Are they in it to steal your Metrocard swipes or something? What would be their motivation for deliberately providing crappy service?

Emily July 26, 2010 - 1:29 pm

I’m pretty sure what transit rider said was just sarcasm (and pretty funny at that)

transit rider July 26, 2010 - 8:36 pm

@Kid Twist: do the board member ride the subway everyday like I do? No, they don’t get around the city in their limo with no care in the world.

This the reason I say they ought to go and the riding public should take back this city’s public buses and railways.

dennis July 26, 2010 - 9:16 pm

congratulations–you ride the subway every day! You should have your very own seat on the MTA board because obviously that makes you an expert on complicated subjects like transit policy, labor relations, ensuring adequate funding, etc.


john b July 27, 2010 - 10:14 am

i’m pretty sure right wing rallies would say the same thing about the MTA. everybody loves to beat up on the MTA regardless of ideology.

how does one take back a public agency tho? that would require you to vote for new state reps and senators and i don’t see that happening.

Arnold Rothstein July 27, 2010 - 2:19 pm

Simplistic thinking. MTA bigshots are only out to protect their interests in real estate, trucking and bonds. Not the public interest as they are supposed to be. Get rid of them. Replace them with New Yorkers and workers who understand the system.

Andrew July 29, 2010 - 11:14 pm

So what’s your solution?

Scott E July 26, 2010 - 1:35 pm

If I were a station agent, I’d clean the readers on the turnstiles even if it wasn’t my job. Because if I didn’t, I’d have lines of angry people lined up at my booth to complain.

Alon Levy July 26, 2010 - 3:49 pm

And then you’d get fired for leaving your booth.

Paulp July 27, 2010 - 3:22 pm

Again more wrong information, Station Agents are required to perform what is called finger tip maintenance. During their tour usually at the beginning of the tour and as needed. But their must be someone in the booth or a cop outside the booth.

Alon Levy July 28, 2010 - 2:09 am

If it’s not their job, as Scott assumed, then they get fired.

Sharon August 2, 2010 - 2:11 pm

funny back in the day agents left the booths on their own to empty turn Styles of tookens. At $25 an hour before benefits cleaners can clean metro cards slots. One of the main problems with the union contract is it restricts every little task into one titles job or another. I sometimes put a drop of purel on my metrocard to clean the slot myself. the union contract needs to be thrown out and every title made more flexible for the benefit of the riders. I was at newkirk ave station on the Q two weeks back and watched for 20 min a cleaner walking inside and outside the cleaning closet with a mop in her hand while the station was gross. Garbage can overflowing with trash. At $25 an hour it is a crime

Richard October 30, 2013 - 7:56 am

If I we could buy those cleaners in packs on Ebay I would clean them myself.

Skip Skipson July 26, 2010 - 1:35 pm

What would be their motivation for deliberately providing crappy service?

Part of this is a conspiracy to increase the “Fare Media Liability” on the MTA’s books, not cleaning the metrocard readers will impede a stoopers ability to combine left over metrocards!



John July 26, 2010 - 2:09 pm

The union shoots itself in the foot by doing stuff like this, if it’s true. The station cleaners are in charge of cleaning the stations. The turnstiles are in the station, therefore it’s their job to clean them. This isn’t complicated logic.

rhywun July 26, 2010 - 9:31 pm

Things aren’t that easy. Perhaps at the next contract negotiation the MTA can remember to bargain for those couple of minutes that the cleaners will need in order to clean the card readers. Hopefully, they won’t stage a strike over it. Until then, if it’s not specified in the contract, they don’t have to do it.

Yes, this is all absolutely silly.

Paulp July 27, 2010 - 1:08 pm

No you are wrong. The MTA in their own memos state that in unstaffed areas the supervisors are charged with cleaning turnstiles and doing checks on emergency communication equipment. So it’s not the union it’s MTA policy.

Sharon August 2, 2010 - 2:14 pm

the cleaners make $25 an hour before benefits. Far more than school cleaners(custodian helpers). Maybe it is time to privitize cleaning functions. My biggest problem is these cleaners don’t clean, they don’t scrub tiles. the stations are gross. At the price they are paid, far higher then the going markert, the station should be spotless

Paulp August 5, 2010 - 3:42 pm

Again wrong information. Cleaners do scrub tiles, cleaners mop & disinfect, remove garbage and do it for $21-$22 per hour. The reasons the stations are sometimes dirty is the MTA is far below the numbers of cleaners they need. simply put the stations look like crap because there are not enough cleaners rather than they do no work. An AMNY report of a few months ago detailed all of this.

Edward July 26, 2010 - 3:47 pm

Speaking of cleaning, is there anything in CEMUSA’s contract with the city that makes CEMUSA responsible for taking down outdated signage on their bus shelters? I see tons of bus stops with info and maps for routes that either don’t exist or were rerouted far away from the current stop. For example, 42nd St is littered with bus shelters showing the M104 bus as stopping at various shelters when the M104 hasn’t run there in over a month.

Larry Littlefield July 27, 2010 - 9:17 pm

“Second, when the MTA finally implements a contact-less fare payment system, this petty argument won’t matter any longer.”

Are you sure some provision in the TWU contract won’t require Metrocard turnstile cleaners to keep their job after there are no metrocard turnstiles.

Cutting the services that make a pleasant commute :: Second Ave. Sagas July 30, 2010 - 12:53 am

[…] Greater New York’s mass transit system.” We’ve already heard about the plan to scale back on turnstile cleanliness, a move that will save the authority $1.8 million, and Grossman highlights a series of other cuts: […]


Leave a Comment