Storefront Service Centers Put Transit Agencies on Solid Footing

During a time when there are apps and websites for just about everything, some transit agencies are turning to storefronts to better serve their customers.
February 20, 2019, 11am PST | InTransitionMag
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The Metro Customer Center, formerly located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, has been replaced by the future location of the Wilshire/La Brea Purple Line subway station. This image was taken in 2009.

It may not be as widely known as Melrose Avenue or Rodeo Drive but La Brea Avenue holds its own among Los Angeles’ trendy streets. Until recently, an arresting storefront of shimmering turquoise and teal tiles stood at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard amid the artisanal pizza restaurants, mixology bars and vintage clothing shops.’’

Despite appearances, it didn’t sell Japanese denim, nor did it spin drum-and-bass until 2 a.m. Far more humbly, it sold transit passes, collected lost items, and dispensed — for free — information about the nation’s second-largest transit agency. 

The center was recently relocated to make way for Los Angeles Metro’s subway extension, but when it was open, it set an important tone of the agency’s relationship with the riding public. 

Transit agencies, whether they run buses, trains, ferries, bike share systems, or other mediums of mobility, exist in a state of paradox. While their vehicles, signage and street furniture is highly visible and they serve millions of customers each year, many lack a physical connection with their customers. But some transit providers are working to change that.

During a time when there are apps and websites for just about everything — including purchasing train tickets and viewing schedules — some transit agencies are turning to storefronts to better serve their customers.

“What it really provides is for somebody to be able to walk in and get immediate service. I think it satisfies an immediate need,” said Adrian Paniagua, supervisor of San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s customer service center. “I think the philosophy here is it’s an essential component to overall customer satisfaction. We have a 90-plus percent satisfaction rate with our customers. We want to keep it that way.”

Click here to view the full story in InTransition magazine.

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Published on Monday, February 18, 2019 in InTransition Magazine
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