2011-10-07 / Top Stories

One MTA, One Phone Number: 511

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York State Department of Transportation have announced that New Yorkers can now dial 511, the New York State Travel Information Line, for help with any MTA-related issue or question. The MTA has reduced what had been an array of 117 separate public phone numbers into a single easy-to-remember three-digit number in order to deliver on a commitment to streamline and simplify customer service. New Yorkers can still call 511 for information about roads and bridges, traffic and congestion, ferries and public transportation run by other agencies. The 511 service will now direct MTA customers through a single portal with an interactive voice response system connecting to customer service and travel information for all MTA agencies.

“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,” said MTA Managing Director Diana Jones Ritter. “Customers now have a single phone number for all transportation-related questions, instead of a long and sometimes confusing list of agencies and departments.”

NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said, “511 has proven to be an invaluable information resource for highway traffic conditions. NYSDOT is thrilled to be partnering with the MTA on this customer service enhancement, which makes it easier for MTA customers to obtain information. Transit riders will be able to turn to 511 for their traveling and commuting needs. All people have to do is call 511 or visit the website at 511NY.org, and the service is available 24 hours a day seven days a week.”

The 511 gateway directs callers to information on all rail and transit schedules; trip planning; lost and found; MetroCard, rail ticket, or Bridges and Tunnels tolls; Mail & Ride and other public services. While 511 had already served as a portal for MTA services, the MTA has worked hard with 511 staff to refine menus, prompts and recognized words, as well as call transfer paths in order to better direct customers’ inquiries to the appropriate departments. As a result, the 511 system now provides subway and bus customers options not previously available through voice recognition. Callers will be able to select additional functions such as Lost & Found, Metro- Card Balance Protection, comments and concerns, ticket machines, ticket refunds, and group travel.

The services provided by 511 are provided at no cost to the MTA. 511NY is fully funded by the New York State Department of Transportation. As the MTA looked to simplify its telephone numbers, it became clear that the use of 511 was the most immediate and most cost efficient means for implementing a single pointof entry telephone number for MTA customers because of the pre-existing partnership between the MTA and 511.

Customers will be able to speak to the system to be directed to the appropriate MTA agency for further help through interactive menus or a customer service representative. The system can be interrupted at any point, so one can progress forward without listening to the end of a menu.

To promote the new service, the MTA will run ads on buses, subways, and rail cars. 511 is accessible from throughout New York State. Metro-North customers in Connecticut can access the system by calling toll free, 1-877-690-5114. Because of a high volume of calls, Access-A-Ride customers should continue to use their existing phone numbers: 877-337-2017 or 718-393-4999.

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