MTA to Utilize 311 for Subway Info

November 5, 2009 Updated: November 5, 2009

New York—Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made another stride to tighten up New York City’s communication systems by setting up a tour of the city’s 311 call center for Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials.

MTA CEO Jay Walder and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT) Commissioner Paul J. Cosgrave took a close look at the city’s 311 call center with the mayor on Thursday to see how things work and to discuss options regarding the 311 team handling inquiries involving the MTA’s subway system.

The MTA already lists about 60 phone numbers online for public transportation information, but the long list of numbers may lead to confusion for callers and may also delay response times. The mayor is hoping to increase the response time to the phone calls and lighten the load for the MTA who has a multitude of other tasks at hand. The 311 call center already receives over 370,000 calls annually regarding public transit questions and reports.

“We pledged to build a stronger relationship between the city and the MTA, so we can build the modern and efficient mass transit system New York City deserves. Today, we take the first step by agreeing to work toward utilizing the power of 311 to make life a little easier for the 8.5 million people who take mass transit every day in the city. If we can have one number to call to receive subway and bus information, report problems, or get directions, it would bring the same great service that New Yorkers have gotten from city government since 2003 to the MTA,” stated the mayor in recent press release issued on Thursday.

Over fifty percent of the questions for 311 regarding MTA and the subway are related to times and locations of trains and buses. With the MTA being so closely wed to the city’s other departments, the mayor is looking to make things easier for everyone by getting direct contact with MTA, and officials from MTA seem to be in agreement.

“The MTA must make it easier for our customers to access the information they need to navigate our transportation network. Maintaining so many different numbers is confusing to riders and not the most cost-effective solution. I look forward to working with Mayor Bloomberg as we explore ways to improve our customer service and operate more efficiently.” said MTA Chairman and CEO Walder at the tour.

Currently 311 is tracking reports of New Yorker’s complaints about other city problems and has recently added an iPhone application that makes reporting easier and more direct. With 311 taking in the MTA questions and other concerns of the people the MTA lines should soon clear up much like New York City’s 911 lines.