Not so fast, MTA.


A Manhattan judge put the brakes yesterday on the MTA’s attempt to lay off nearly 500 station workers and close station customer assistance booths.


Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Saliann Scarpulla ordered the MTA yesterday afternoon reopen 38 recently closed station booths, and fully staff them, until new public hearings are held.


The MTA shut the booths on May 14, eliminating 260 station agent jobs in the process. Scarpulla’s retroactive ruling expands a decision she made last week, halting the elimination of an additional 202 station agents set to occur in July.

MTA Chairman Jay Wal-der said he was forced to carry out the layoffs to close massive budget gaps. But union heads and riders alike gasped at the thought of an unmanned subway system.

Closing station booths “makes no sense in today’s world of terror threats,” said John Samuelsen, president of the Transit Workers Union. “And will result in an almost certain spike to serious crime in the subways,” as well as a rise in fare-beating, he added.

The MTA held public hearings in early 2009 about their plans to close 158 booths, but Scarpulla decided too much time had passed since then and mandated new hearings.

The MTA Board will vote on the hearings today.