Subway booth at the Columbus Circle station, via Wiki Commons
Fresh off their announcement that they’ve begun the testing phase of a mobile device scanning and payment system to replace the MetroCard, the MTA has revealed that they’re also considering doing away with the ye-olde subway booth worker. According to the Daily News, the latest attempt at modernization will replace the workers with “customer service ambassadors” who will roam stations to provide real-time travel info and answer questions.
As part of chairman Joe Lhota’s Subway Action Plan, the MTA is working with the Transport Workers Union Local 100 to negotiate the terms of the new title, but some union members feel it’s the agency’s backhanded way of reducing the workforce by combining the roles of station agent and platform controller. MTA spokesman Shams Tarek, however, says it’s merely a way of improving customer service. And with the new mobile fare system in the works, it’s expected that fewer people will utilize booths.
Though talks are still underway related to responsibilities, titles, and salaries, the MTA has already started to move ahead with the plan. When the new R train station at 53rd Street in Sunset Park opened on September 8th, ambassadors were present to hand out flyers about the station, and they were wearing the new uniforms of a yellow and black polo shirt with epaulets. A larger rollout is planned for this month.
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