The first phase of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to modernize the subway focuses on improving communication between workers and riders. Last week, the MTA announced it would distribute about 230 iPhones to platform workers and train operators to pass along helpful information to straphangers about train problems and also provide alternative routes. Now, according to amNY, customer service ambassadors will roam subway stations to offer assistance, instead of staying in the booth. Over the next several weeks, ambassadors will be selected, trained and then placed at busy stations, especially those with a lot of tourists like Grand Central Terminal and Times Square.
The pilot program, expected to last one year, allows 355 current station agents to volunteer for the new customer service role. If selected, the worker would receive at least $1 more in wages per hour. Ambassadors selected for the new job will receive special training and wear recognizable uniforms. Their job will be to roam the stations, positively engage face-to-face with customers and give real-time information to the system.
After negotiating terms of the new job, the Transit Workers Union Local 100 and the MTA agreed to a set number of station agents and the wage increases for participants of the pilot program. Plus, any worker that leaves the booth to test out the ambassador job will be replaced by a new employee.
Tony Utano, president of the union, called it a mutually-beneficial agreement. “Riders will get better customer service and our members will get access to new, better-paying jobs.”