Station agents are training in preparation for their grand exit from booths.
"Anticipating no issues, we'll be rolling this out sometime in early March," Richard Davey, the president of NYC Transit, said. "Station agents will be out of the booth permanently."
Instead of making change and giving service updates from behind bulletproof windows, the booth agents will be posted outside the glass to interact directly with customers.
"The ridership is gonna embrace our members," Robert Kelley, the vice president of the Stations Department at TWU Local 100, said. "They're solid individuals and they're here to help."
Local 100 is a chapter of the Transport Workers Union of America, a union that represents transportation workers in bus and subway lines across the country.
"For the most part, we'll be there to perform high-level customer serivce," Kelley said. "From time to time, the expectation will be to go out there to inspect the station to make sure everything is good for the ridership."
One commuter hopes the workers will help riders navigate pesky service changes.
"They can direct people to other choices," commuter Angela Howard said.
Kelley said the workers will be ready for that.
"Each of our members will be issued cell phones and in that cell phone they'll have an ability to look things up, and things like that, for directions or locations that people want to be," Kelley said.
MTA officials for years have wanted station agents to leave their booths to help riders.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the MTA ended cash transactions for MetroCards, taking away one of the responsibilities of station agents.
And with the MTA's digital tap-and-pay system, OMNY, giving riders fewer reasons to visit a booth, this new role is about job preservation for the union.
The MTA will pay station agents an extra dollar per hour, and hire more than 200 new agents this summer.
"Our agents are the best of the best. There's no question about that," Kelley said. "We're ready to go. At the end of the day, we know what the job entails."