Why This Year Is the Year the MTA Puts Customers First
By Anthony Paradiso
Ever waited for hours in line or on the phone to get assistance from the Metro Transportation Authority? Apparently, New Yorkers have been going to the MTA headquarters in lower Manhattan to do this for decades but now that will be changing thanks to the organization’s interest in improving customer service.
The ticket booths in the New York City subways have always been ugly, dirty booths that have not been cleaned since the 70s and lack the resources to fix most problems. A recent plan forged by MTA Chair and CEO, Janno Lieber is supporting a plan to install many new “customer service centers” (CSCs), which will replace the old ticket booths of some of the city’s subway stations.
Recently, three CSCs were built at the Coney Island Stillwell Avenue station as well as Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in Brooklyn and 161st street-Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. By the end of 2023, the MTA plans to build 12 CSCs across the five boroughs. In addition to modernizing the customer service aspect of using the subway, this plan will also include expanding the duties of the transit worker to roaming around the station, where they will actively assist customers in need of help.
Other subway stations that will receive the boost include 34th Street-Penn Station, 125th Street in Manhattan and Flushing-Main Street and 74th Street-Jackson Heights in Queens among eight other locations. AMNY reports that affected stations will also have new seating areas and iPads installed. Riders will be able to use the iPads to “check for service advisories” and “provide customer feedback” among other things, which will add a hands-on feature to the city subway experience that has not been there before.
Last summer, I traveled from Manhattan to Queens on the way to a New York Mets game. I took the “7 Train” to Willets Point station from the 42nd street station. This experience was not all that bad because the car was clean and the ride comfortable but going down the steps from street-level into the subway station is always unpleasant because it just looks drab and dirty. Thankfully Mr. Lieber, the newest CEO of the MTA seems to be putting the customer first, instead of focusing solely on his company’s bottom line. This is what he had to say about Customer Service Centers.
“If you haven’t stood on Stone Street at 8 o’clock in the morning when the line is forming…to line up to do these not very complicated transactions, you gotta see that before you dismiss this. To be able to do it in your neighborhood is, for a lot of people, a game-changer.” – Janno Lieber, Chair and CEO of the MTA
Bringing customer service to subway riders, who have done without meaningful change for too long, is part of the MTAs progress into the 21st century. AMNY added that, in terms of cleanliness and modernity, the New York City subways pale in comparison with those in other developed countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and Denmark. It’s time that a country that can improve the functioning of its transportation systems fulfills that responsibility starting with one of its biggest cities.
As previously announced, agents have been tasked with shifting duties and will now be expected to step outside the locked booths and help commuters navigate the system, properly use the tap-to-pay OMNY card and walk around the station to make sure everything all is working properly.
We finally know what will replace those glass token booths in the subway as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) just released photos of the new customer service centers scheduled to be installed all over the system.