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several upper west side subway kiosk booths are slated to close or lose employees in the upcoming year. the stations along the 1, 2, 3 train lines and the b,c local lines between the west 59th street stop and the 116th street stop will be affected.

the cuts are part of the elimination of a 2004 pilot initiative, the station customer assistance program, which had clerks leaving their booths to help riders in the station. by scrapping the program, 570 customer assistance employees and 26 supervisors will be eliminated in stations throughout the city. all affected stations will continue to have one full-time operated booth.

the program was nixed due to budget problems and declining revenue, according to the mta. the savings to the mta are expected to be $52 million. the mta is also cutting sanitation staff to save money.

members of the transit union, local legislators and transit advocates are worried that the downsizing will leave subways unsafe and unsanitary.

gene russianoff, an attorney for the straphangers campaign, said the station staff is crucial for riders who need assistance while traveling and adds a sense of security.

"i strongly believe that station agents are the eyes and ears of the system," russianoff said. "their motto is, 'if you see something say something.' the question now is to whom."

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