|For Immediate Release:
Thursday, February 1, 2007
|For More Info: Gene Russianoff
and Charity Carbine (212) 349-6460
The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign today issued a field survey of out-of-the-booth “station customer service agents” and an Internet poll of rider opinion of the agents.
The survey found that these transit workers perform a useful range of services to help riders, from giving passengers directions to assisting them in using MetroCard Vending Machines, while the Internet opinion poll found riders divided about the program.
The agents are also known as “roving station agents.” Starting in 2005, MTA New York City Transit revised plans to close 164 station booths and reassign personnel, instead deploying part-time booth agents to “rove” the station to assist riders at these locations.
The Straphangers Campaign decided to observe these clerks to see how the program was working.
Between January 17th and October 19th of 2006, nineteen Campaign staff and volunteers observed roving clerks at the first 50 booth locations in the MTA New York City Transit program. The observation period was thirty minutes per station, with a total of 71 separate observations. Observations were made either in the late morning, midday or afternoon. Surveyors were told not to inform the agents of their presence. (Click here to see the survey form.)
The Straphangers Campaign found that roving agents performed the following activities during our half-hour observation periods:
“Roving stations are helping riders navigate the subways,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign.
The Campaign also found roving agents encountered the following situation in less than 10% of our observation periods:
The latter two observations may reflect the infrequent number of times the roving clerks encountered these situations.
The Campaign’s surveyors also noted that the roving clerks wore their distinctive burgundy blazers in 81%, with the bulk of the remainder wearing their blazers under coats at cold stations. Our surveyors found 100% of the station booths in the program that we observed were painted in burgundy.
“In a non-random Internet poll, rider opinion was divided,” said campaign organizer Charity Carbine.
The campaign asked: In 2005, transit managers started a program of "station customer agents." These agents "rove" the station at scores of locations and are tasked with helping riders navigate the subways, rather than work inside a station booth. Do you think the program of "roving" station customer agents is great? good? fair? poor?”
More than 28% rated the program as great or good; 22% rated it fair; 35% rated the program poor; and 15% had no opinion. More than 925 riders responded to an e-mail sent out to subscribers of the web site www.straphangers.org. The poll was also posted on the web site.
The Campaign expressed thanks to the volunteer surveyors, which included Toyin Ajasin, Yves Antenor, Melinda Barrios, Romano Belgrave, Robyn Citizen, Jacob Constantino, Galina Ginzburg, Hanbit Kwon, Rebecca Lefton, Pamela Mirir, John Quinn, Timothy Romero, Amanda Sisenstein, Benjamin Steubel, Priya Sultan, Tanisha Clark, Angela Vasquez, Jessenia Vazcones, and Daniella Weinberg.
The Straphangers Campaign’s work to rate the quality of subway and bus service is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which is a leader in supporting the assessment of government services.