The NY Post reported today that the MTA is considering a pilot program that would remove token booths from 25 stations in the city, so it seems it's about to become a little harder to bang on a station booth and inform the attendant your unlimited MetroCard was not recently swiped, dammit.

The program is still on the bargaining table, and an MTA spokesman tells us the agency can't comment on it because its part of some closed door contract negotiations. But an MTA official told the Post that the proposed plan would take more employees out from behind the station booths, instead assigning workers to patrol the station dealing with things like garbage and crowd control. “The idea is an employee can do a lot more for customers outside of the booth than inside," the official said. As long as you can find one, that is!

Apparently, contracts between the MTA and the TWU Local 100 currently determine that the MTA can’t assign workers in one title any jobs that fall under a different title's duties. So by eliminating the station agent job in favor of a more all-encompassing title, the MTA would be able to expand a single worker's duties, though a union official noted this could cut down on jobs and negatively effect the transit work force. "We have supported Transit in the past when it replaced booth agents with ones that roam the station,” he said. “It makes for a safer, more welcoming subway. But the sad truth is that the move outside was soon followed by a reduction in station staffing.” FWIW, in 2010, the MTA laid off hundreds of station agents to save cash.

Riders, as usual, had mixed opinions. Some shrugged off the proposal and pointed out they purchase all their MetroCards in the vending machines anyway, and others voiced concern that problems wouldn't be addressed without a station agent on duty. A few Gothamist commuters also noted eliminating station booths would make it difficult to solve commonplace card issues like the age-old faux double-swipe crisis; if an employee is roving around the station, how will they let you through in time to catch the last functioning F train of the night?

At this point, we're just biking everywhere anyway.