A new customer service station opened its doors under Downtown Crossing today with the hope of offering a one-stop shop for riders.
MBTA officials say they plan to work out the kinks at the new "CharlieCard Store," which is
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adjacent to the Red and Orange Lines, and is meant to be a convenient location for T customers to go for senior passes, Transportation Access Passes (TAP), visually impaired passes, and RIDE CharlieCards and general inquiries, according to officials.
The new 1,800-foot facility is complete with air conditioning and customer seating, a far cry from the small booths it is replacing at Back Bay Station and nearby in Downtown Crossing station.
The store was packed with customers yesterday, who were instructed to take a number in order to be helped by one of the newly trained, multilingual customer service agents behind the counter.
"We will try to get you in and out quicker, so as the days go by, (officials) will observe how it is working and make appropriate adjustments,” MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said today.
At the CharlieCard Store, customers can also buy MBTA passes, transfer value from paper CharlieTickets to plastic CharlieCards and replace damaged CharlieTickets or CharlieCards and pose for the required photo ID pictures.
"The new Charlie Card store means there is no more separate but equal for our customers," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. "This facility offers all of our riders an opportunity to conduct their business in a welcoming, comfortable and accessible way. I am proud to offer this new feature for our MBTA users."
A glimpse at the new customer service station:
- The CharlieCard Store cost about $1.3 million for design and construction
- The facility is approximately 1,800 square feet, and is fully accessible for people with disabilities
- Construction began about one year ago
- The MBTA closed the Back Bay Station customer service facility, and plans to earn revenue by renting the space to a tenant that will jive well with the other shops at the station
- MBTA officials said the average customer wait time is about 10 minutes
- The CharlieCard Store's capacity is 110 customers. The former Back Bay station customer service area held about six.
Around 1:30 p.m., customers started clucking over longer-than-expected wait times. The trouble, according to MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo, was a 20-minute "computer issue" that caused the delay.
Teresa Waitt sat on the floor of the new facility with her book, and like the dozens of people around her, Waitts was waiting.
"I already went to Back Bay and was upset about that," she said, laughing. "Because I didn't know it was closed. I had to get back on the train, which without my pass, cost me more money."
Waitt checked her ticket, and said she had been waiting for 30 minutes, but that there were still several people ahead of her on the queue.
"I would say it is a long wait, but I understand. I had no idea this was the first day it opened, but it is a necessity for me to sit here because I have to get my TAP pass, otherwise it will cost me a lot of money to get home."
As she sat Indian-style on the floor, Waitt said she is hopeful that there will be more seats added for customers.
Barbara Moulton, an assistant general manager of customer communication and marketing at the MBTA, said more seats are definitely in the works, as is the installation of speakers, and a one way mirror for officials to oversee the facility from behind closed doors.