N.Y. transit union protests computerized subway control

Posted on December 2, 2004

New York City's transit union began a campaign Wednesday to mobilize riders against a plan to replace train conductors with a computer-controlled subway system, the New York Times reported. Members of the union, Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union of America, handed out leaflets at stations along the L train route in Manhattan and Brooklyn, where New York City Transit (NYCT) officials hope to begin introducing the fully automated trains by the middle of 2005, the paper said. Although a train operator would continue to ride in the front cab in the event of an emergency, the new system would eliminate the jobs of many conductors. "This is a gamble, a dangerous gamble, and passengers will pay," Roger Toussaint, the president of the union, said. NYCT's plan, which would phase in computerized operation of the trains, is based on "careful study, peer review and an extensive safety certification plan," NYCT spokesman Paul J. Fleuranges said. The first phase of the plan, at a cost of $28 million, is expected to be approved when the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent agency of NYCT, votes on its capital budget on Dec. 16.

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