Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023 A Manhattan Supreme Court Justice signed an order Friday barring the MTA from removing elevator operators from deep-cavern subway stations in Washington Heights. If the MTA wants to move forward with the staffing cuts, it must first hold public hearings as required by New York State’s Public Authorities Law, Supreme Court Justice Machelle Sweeting determined.

The MTA tried to eliminate the elevator positions earlier this summer without public notice or hearings. But TWU Local 100 filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the move while stressing several main points: the staffing cuts would result in riders feeling less safe, make it even harder for disabled riders to use the system, adversely impact disabled transit workers operating the elevators.

The stations are: 168th, 181st, and 190th streets on the A line, and 181st and 191st Streets on the No 1. Line. The deepest station is about 180 feet below ground. Elevators are the only way in and out.

“The MTA is wildly out of touch on this issue,” Local 100 President Richard Davis said. “Riders want more uniformed staff in the subway, not less, especially in these stations, which are 15 to 20 stories below ground and require take an elevator to get in or out. This is a win for both riders and the union.”

Local 100 Stations Vice President Robert Kelley said: “If the MTA does hold public hearing, they’re going to face a lot of angry riders and elected officials from Washington Heights. The MTA wants to raise fares – and reduce customer service and access to these stations – at the same time.

The judge did the right thing and slammed the brakes on their plan.” The judge said she now wants to hear why eliminating the elevator positions doesn’t violate the city Human Rights Law by taking away an accommodation now provided disabled riders. Hearings on that will take place later this month and September.