For years, one of the most obvious signs of bureaucratic issues with the MTA concerned its public phone numbers. The authority had, at its high point, 117 different phone numbers depending upon which service callers needed, and no one really knew which number to call. As part of its effort at cutting down these severe inefficiencies, the MTA has consolidated to one, state-run number. Those who need information from the MTA can now just call 5-1-1.
The 511 service, the authority said in a press release, will provide a portal to an interactive voice response system that will connect calls to customer service and travel information for all MTA agencies. Services include all rail and transit schedules; trip planning; lost and found; MetroCard, rail ticket, or Bridges and Tunnels tolls; and Mail & Ride. Furthermore, as 5-1-1 is a state service, this move costs the MTA no additional dollars. “This is a great example of how we are working to make it easier for our customers to get information and interact with the MTA at the same time that we reduce the MTA’s administrative costs,” MTA Managing Director Diana Jones Ritter said. “Customers now have a single phone number for all transportation-related questions, instead of a long and sometimes confusing list of agencies and departments.”
The MTA noted that 5-1-1 has been available as a transportation resource for a while, but the offerings have been refined. Call transfer paths will “better direct customers’ inquiries to the appropriate departments,” and functions such as Lost & Found, MetroCard Balance Protection and general comments and concerns are now available at one phone number. Ads promoting the new service will soon appear in buses, subways and rail cars throughout the area.