MTA, NY TWU 100 mull ditching subway booth workers for ‘ambassadors’ to boost communication with riders “They just want to combine both, where they work the platform and they also work on the other side of the turnstile,” said Kia Phua, the union’s vic

MTA, transit union mull ditching subway booth workers for ‘ambassadors’ to boost communication with riders
“They just want to combine both, where they work the platform and they also work on the other side of the turnstile,” said Kia Phua, the union’s vice president of rapid transit operations. “It is a job cut.”

BY
DAN RIVOLI
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, October 9, 2017, 4:00 AM
The subway station clerk soon may go the way of the token.

In what could be the beginning of the end for booth-dwelling workers, the MTA is in negotiations with the transit union to create a new title, “customer service ambassador,” with new duties, the Daily News has learned.

Ambassadors will roam stations and aid riders, in effect offering concierge services befitting the subway.

“These ambassadors will improve communication with riders by providing real-time information about the system and their commutes,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Shams Tarek said.

It’s all part of improving customer service, Tarek said, which is key to MTA chairman Joe Lhota’s Subway Action Plan.

As they did back when riders used tokens, station agents still handle MetroCard transactions and take questions and complaints from tourists and New Yorkers alike. But in anticipation of the day when the MetroCard is retired for smart card and phone payments, and fewer people line up at booths, the MTA and the union representing transit workers have tried to negotiate new responsibilities for station agents.

Riders got their first glimpse of the new subway ambassadors at the reopening of the 53rd St. stop on the R line in Brooklyn, following the station’s six-month makeover. The workers were handing out flyers detailing the station renovations and new artwork.

MTA workers in yellow and black shirts labeled with “Customer Service Ambassador” (pictured) greeted riders after the reopening of the R train in Brooklyn in Sept. 2017. (KEVIN C. DOWNS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
Commuter Will O’Connor, 42, thinks having roving workers makes more sense than the booths. He said he never goes to a booth anymore and thinks their locations are inconvenient when he needs help.

Gov. Cuomo orders panel to bust NYC gridlock, bring money to MTA

“I’ve tried to bark information to one of those booths through the turnstile,” the tech worker from Carroll Gardens said of one fruitless effort to figure out when his next train would show up.

Jean-Claude Quintyne, 25, from Crown Heights, thought it would help make his commute smoother, particularly when he’s at the busy Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center station. The ambassador concept, Quintyne said, is a sign that the MTA is “moving to improve things, instead of trying to empty our pockets.”

Not everyone is thrilled with the plan.

Some representatives of Transport Workers Union Local 100 say the MTA is trying to cut its work force by merging the role of station agent and platform controller – who are train conductors assigned to thin crowds at stations – into a single title.