MTA touts success 1 year after moving station agents from booths to subway platforms

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Tuesday, April 9, 2024
MTA honors station agents 1 year after move from booth to platforms
NJ Burkett has the latest on the MTA's move to push agents to interact with the public.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The MTA says its decision to move station agents from token booths to subway platforms to better assist riders has received positive reviews one year later.

The shift from the booth-centered position, which dates to the era of tokens, was meant to modernize the role to better serve the needs of customers.

Now they are giving directions, walking corridors and helping tourists use MetroCard machines.

It was one year ago that the MTA and the transit union reached an agreement to update the role of the so-called "token clerk." All are now expected to remain outside the bulletproof glass booth for most of their working hours.

"Some said, 'Well, what's the future of the station agent? Are they relevant anymore?' My answer was a resounding 'Hell yes!' What we're trying to do is to be customer-focused and customer-facing," said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. "And so the conversations that we've had over the last two years was to say, how do we evolve?"

Yet it comes at a time when assaults against transit workers are at an all-time high.

Agents are allowed reasonable time inside the booth for breaks, to seek safety or to call for help. After one year, TWU Vice President Robert Kelley insists the plan has been a success.

"Both parties agree that MTA and TWU agree that the need to be outside the booth is 'as-needed' in terms of our members coming out there to service the ridership," Kelley said. "But there is no expectation for anybody to put themselves in harm's way."

The agency says agents received eight times as many rider commendations since they came out of the booth. The move also resulted in $10 million in annual savings, the MTA said.

Officials with the Transit Authority believe that is due to the roughly 2,300 station agents having more direct interactions with the public.

On Tuesday, Davey spoke out about the success and personally thanked the agents.

"Customer satisfaction is pretty darn high when they have the opportunity to interact with our agents, asking them questions, helping them with MetroCards as you can see over to my right and soon OMNY as well," Davey said.

According to the MTA, nearly four in five customers who interacted with an agent outside the booth said they were satisfied.

The same people were also two times more likely to feel safe on platforms.

"I am committed to making our subways safer and more accessible for the millions who rely on them each day," Governor Kathy Hochul said. "Station agents are the first point of contact for riders in need of assistance, and their continual presence in our stations is delivering results for New Yorkers."

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