NYC judge: Restore transit jobs, reopen customer service booths

(AP) - A Manhattan judge ordered New York City's transit agency Tuesday to restore hundreds of jobs to its payrolland reopen dozens of customer service booths that had closed because of budget problems.

State Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla told the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to reopen 42 customer assistance booths across the subway system and return the agency's staffing to the level it was in May.

The agency laid off more than 200 employees last month and planned to cut another 200 this month. Those laid off included agents who sell subway passes at station booths and agents who provide customer service.

The judge said new public hearings were required before the MTA could fire any employees and ordered the booths to be reopened. Shehad postponed the planned additional layoffs last week.

In a statement, the MTA said it will appeal the judge's order. It said the appeal would trigger an automatic stay of the order and stop the reopening of any booths.

"These closures were necessitated by the MTA's dire financial situation," the statement said.

Transport Workers Union President John Samuelson said firing the employees could bring a spike in crime.

"Our subway system is a far safer place for transit riders with our station agents manning the booths, manning the platforms and mezzanines, helping and assisting passengers," Samuelson said in a statement. "Digital signage and cameras can't come to the aid of passengers, and can't offer that immediate link to police and fire that our station agents provide."

The MTA will hold a board meeting Wednesday to authorize new public hearings on the cuts.

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