Paratransit advocates report call center problems

Paratransit advocates report call center problems

MBTA acknowledges 'issues' as part of consolidation effort

PARATRANSIT ADVOCATES said on Monday that the MBTA’s new centralized call center is off to a rocky start, and agency officials acknowledged some glitches as the service has been rolled out.

The T is trying to consolidate three call centers into one, with the goal of saving an estimated $7 million a year in operating costs. So far, only two of the regional call centers have been consolidated.

Marilyn Villers, executive director of Massachusetts Senior Action Council, told the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board that many of her members have reported problems with poorly trained dispatchers and late pickups. She said the T’s private vendor also appears to be experiencing technology problems.

“They aren’t on top of it yet,” she said. “The word among RIDE customers is that you have to be careful because you might get stranded.”

Marilyn McNabb, a Boston resident, recounted a problem she had with a poorly air-conditioned van and her difficulty in communicating with dispatch staff. She said the operator of the call center is not paying dispatchers enough, so a lot of the workers at the regional call centers are not moving over. “We lost a lot of real good dispatchers,” she said.

Several members of the Fiscal and Management Control Board raised concerns about the problems and asked Brian Shortsleeve, the chief administrator and acting general manager of the T, for an explanation. He acknowledged some problems during the transition to a centralized call center.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

“We know exactly what needs to be addressed,” Shortsleeve said. “I am confident we’re going to see improvement over the next four to eight weeks.”

Joseph Aiello, chair of the T board, asked T officials to give the board a weekly update on progress.