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Rider's Almanac Blog

COVID-19 Transit Information

Customer support staff working from home, but here to help

Posted by Laura Baenen | Thursday, April 16, 2020 5:35:00 PM

Staff who normally report to Metro Transit's Customer Relations offices, the Transit Information Center and Service Centers continue to support customers from home offices. The TIC's 30 representatives, who help customers plan trips and answer other questions, are handling about 1,500 calls per weekday. 

Whether it’s from a home office or a kitchen counter, Metro Transit staffers are still there to help customers plan essential trips, sort out their Go-To cards and handle other matters during the stay-at-home order.

For Melissa Mensah (top row, middle photo), work these days means reporting to a basement office instead of making a three-hour roundtrip from her home in Zimmerman to the downtown Minneapolis Service Center, where she is the lead service center representative.

From home, she processes Transit Assistance Program (TAP) and limited mobility applications and transfers balances to new Go-To Cards. A co-worker goes into the Service Center once a week to put new Go-To Cards in the mail.

Mensah is enjoying more time with her husband, who works overnight as a hospital nursing assistant. But the couple misses their 10-year-old son, who is high risk and has been sent to live with Mensah’s parents.

Mensah’s father, Metro Transit bus operator Dwight Nelson, is on COVID-19 leave because he is also at high risk, and her mother is also at home.

Still, Mensah misses being downtown. "I miss the commotion and all the people,” she said. "The last week I worked there before we closed the store it was like a ghost town.”

Teleworking isn’t new for Transit Information Center (TIC) representatives, some of whom who have been working from home for the last six years. All 30 TIC representatives are now teleworking, and four supervisors are teleworking at least part of the time, said John Howley, their manager.

TIC representatives help customers plan trips and answer other questions over the phone or by text message. ‘"They will be able to perform all duties they normally perform in assisting customers while teleworking that they do in the office,’’ Howley said.

To set up the automated call distribution group remotely, TIC reps were given special phones. Representatives are getting about 1,500 calls each weekday. 

From her kitchen island, Customer Relations Manager Pam Steffen (middle row, right photo) oversees eight staffers who are remotely answering customers’ calls and e-mails, which are down by about a third to a half.

Customers’ questions these days are centered on lost items, Go-To Cards and COVID-19 related issues. Staff report feedback to Metro Transit management nightly.

Steffen said staff is treating family members like co-workers. For example, one person told a spouse when the mail arrived that they had a package waiting at the front desk, as if they had a reception desk at home. 

"One of my staff working at home, who has two kids in school, has adapted well,” Steffen said. “When his phone rings, his kids know it’s time to go back upstairs, that it’s quiet time.”

We're home, but we're here to help

While Metro Transit's Service Centers and the Lost & Found have closed to reduce in-person interactions, help is still available.

  • Customer Relations staff can answer questions about lost items, transit service and Go-To Cards from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 612-373-3333 or use this online form.
  • Transit Information Center representatives cal help plan trips from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. Call 612-373-3333 or text 612-444-1161.
  • Current Go-To Card users can add value or check their balance at any rail platform, at metrotransit.org or by calling 612-373-3333. Value can be added to Go-To Cards at any Cub Foods, Jerry’s Foods or Unbank location. New Go-To Cards can be purchased at metrotransit.org, or at any Cub Foods or Unbank location.

Please continue to visit metrotransit.org/health and follow Metro Transit on Twitter and Facebook for updates.