01/05/2015 06:43 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST

STM shifts metro ticket agents out of booths

The STM is reaching out to customers by making its employees more available.

Beginning today, metro users will see workers outside their ticket booths as part of a pilot project aimed at improving service.

Marvin Rotrand, the vice-chair of the STM board of directors, said the project was launched in response to changes in the way customers purchase their transit tickets. The number of tickets purchased at booths continues to drop as more people turn to the automated machines, he said.

In an interview with CBC Radio Noon, Rotrand explained the idea is to have STM employees "more dynamically" interact with the customers, rather than remain "in the ticket booth all day."

"They'll be helping customers who don't understand or who can't work the machines," said Rotrand, who is also the chair of the customer service committee of the STM.

"They'll be providing information to tourists and customers who may have questions about where to make your transfers or which line to take on the metro."

Customers will have to use the automated machines while employees are out of the booths, he added.

Union concerned about slowdown

For now, the project will be limited to Jean-Talon, Rosemont, Radisson, Pie-IX, Square-Victoria and Lionel-Groulx. 

Renato Carlone, the head of the union representing the workers, said he has some concerns about the project.

"We're all for customer service," he said. "My preoccupation is that it will just slow the service down."

Rotrand said the ticket agents will remain at their booths during peak times at the beginning and end of the month when customers renew their monthly passes.

He said that while STM employees aren't required to speak English under Quebec law, they will make sure to have English pamphlets on hand.

"We can’t force the employee to speak English to someone who asks a question in English, however in the vast bulk of cases STM employees are able to get by somewhat in English," he said. 

"We try to have the policy of common sense prevail."