Earlier this week, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials announced that the last few remaining station token agents will no longer be sitting behind those now-legendary glass booths but, instead, will start interacting with New Yorkers more directly.
You can expect the agents to assist riders with disabilities and seniors, help out at fare machines, properly give out directions, maintain a clean environment and report any sort of in-station issues that might concern customers.
"In recognition of the changing environment at subway stations, station agents will shift from working exclusively in booths to performing core customer service functions throughout the station, including at turnstiles, MetroCard machines and on platforms," explains an official press release about the pretty big change.
The update feels particularly on point given the fact that most riders no longer buy tokens, MetroCards or single tickets at booths but easily make use of the tap-and-go subway payment system that has taken over most stations across town.
The reassigned staff members are currently undergoing training and will start fulfilling their new roles in early 2023.
Those physical booths will not disappear, though. They will actually be used by employees as a space to fill out paperwork and call authorities when necessary.
"Providing the best possible experience for customers is our North Star at New York City Transit," said NYC Transit president Richard Davey in an official statement. "To customers, station agents often represent the face of the transit system, dating back to the era of token booths. By enhancing the station agent role, the era of customer support being offered only through a glass wall has gone the way of the token itself, and agents will be able to connect directly with the riders they're serving."
Back in November, Davey pledged to achieve at least 70% customer satisfaction on subways and buses by June 2024 and, given the current state of our transit system, we imagine that will take quite some work—but it's nice to see officials start tackling problems in more creative ways than we're used to.