Home MTA Absurdity MTA service with a smile

MTA service with a smile

by Benjamin Kabak

MTA employees never look this cheerful.

MTA station employees do not enjoy a very good reputation on the Internet. As Chris has documented, people tend to notice them most when they’re literally falling asleep on the job. But what if the MTA had service with a smile?

A group of young women calling themselves Boring, Inc., decided to find out recently. They’ve started a full-service group called MTA Service Specialists in an effort to promote hospitality on the subways, one of New York’s bastions of inhospitable behavior. Alex Nathanson at the Independent Media Center had more on their efforts to spruce spruce up the subways:

Four women, members of Boring Inc., have taken it upon themselves to increase customer service on New York City subways. Dressed in matching uniforms complete with heels, pill box hats, and of course, a snack cart, this past Saturday, Kae Burke, Lauren Larken, Anya Sapozhnukova, and Kristine “Kiki” traveled around New York offering help, snacks, and smiles.

“Commuters deserve helpful, courteous service with a smile while riding the erroneous MTA,” says Kae Burke, the organizer of the MTA Service Specialists project.

The performance is a response to the MTA’s fair hikes. It has been more than a month since the fair hike and the MTA has yet to improve their overall service including extended evening hours and additional train routes.

I’m not going to complain about this one. That’s for sure. If four women dressed as airline stewardesses for the subways want to pass out snacks and advice to subway riders in need, who are we to stop them? The subways could use a little more pizazz anyway.

The Post had a few great quotes from those participating and those observing the young women in action. “The MTA should have some customer service,” Kae Burke, one of the service specialists, said. “People listen to humans a lot more than outdated messages, especially when we look this good.”

“With these girls, I’d be on the train all day. You’d have 1000 percent ridership,” Steven Faria, a rider, said. Maybe attractive young women are the secrets to the MTA’s woes. As they say, sex sells, and the subways sure could be a whole lot sexier.

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The Secret Conductor April 10, 2008 - 5:08 am

This is pretty crazy.

Many MTA employees don’t have the greatest dispositions because, what many people don’t realize, is that workers reflect the environment.

Imagine, if you will, being in the subway system, the same system everybody complains about, for 8 hours a day (or more). The environment that you guys are only in 30-100 minutes a day is what we get as our work environment. And its not pretty. From dirty lunch rooms to smelly bathrooms.

As someone who worked as a professional and have a professional degree, I have to say that even my own work ethic has taken a hit. I have to focus hard on being professional and re-enforce what I know and was taught. Its hard to stay positive in a dirty, dark (mostly), and loud environment. As a person who feels the built environment effect how people behave, I truly feel that after a while, employees become grumpy. Work hours also do not help.

My own idea to remedy the issue is to:
a) improve work environment
b) teach customer service yearly, especially station agents

Don’t get me wrong, I like my job, but the environment is not very human friendly and because of this, even those who are professionally trained tend to falter.

As a person planning on opening my own business and has to think about how to handle employees, I just find that encouragement and environment is a great way to keep up productivity and hospitality.

Peter April 10, 2008 - 8:59 am


When people complain about the conditions in the Electric Sewer my usual response is “You only have to be there a couple hours a day. Think about what it would be like 40 or so hours a week.”

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