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MTA 2011 Highlights: 511

In 2011, the MTA focused on delivering on some long-promised benefits for our 8.5 million customers. This is the fourth in a daily series that recaps the best of 2011.

MTA customers now have a single phone number for all transportation-related questions. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York State Department of Transportation collaborated earlier this year to announce 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 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.

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, MetroCard 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 point-of-entry telephone number for MTA customers because of the pre-existing partnership between the MTA and 511.

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.