Starting Jan. 2, Metro will operate the Westlake Customer Stop only the first four and last four business days of every month, rather than every business day. The hours will be 9-5:30 on those days, as before. Metro is doing so “to more efficiently focus services at the times of the month when transit customers use the facility the most.”
According to spokesman Jeff Switzer, about 60% of the stop’s 4,000+ monthly sales in November were conducted during the 4 first and last business days. By comparison, the Westlake TVMs conducted about 17,000 sales, the most in the system. The original plan was to close the stop entirely to save $260,000 per year, but the end of the ride free area placed new emphasis on ORCA availability. As he told me:
However plans changed. With the RFA ending, our implementation plan identified expanding ORCA sales as a priority to streamline pay on entry. We revised our plan and a 2013/2014 budget was adopted that kept the Westlake Customer Stop open during peak times (first 4 and last 4 business days each month) and redeployed staff on other days to sell ORCA passes at community centers, senior centers and other locations using a new portable “customer service terminal.” Under this approach, staff go to where the potential transit customers are, and will better be able to answer questions from people who might not otherwise come to Westlake Station to buy ORCA passes.
Although there are tons of remaining places to perform ORCA operations, the other 14 or so business days the only option to interact with a knowledgeable human, and get specialty cards like youth and senior ORCAs*, is either at these new customer service terminals or at Metro headquarters on Jackson St.
Switzer added that Metro will examine how this turned out at the end of 2013.
* This can also be done through the mail.