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    Starts & Stops

    South Station watering hole debuts

    A brand new Tavern in the Square was expected to open early this week in the middle of the South Station atrium.
    David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo
    A brand new Tavern in the Square was expected to open early this week in the middle of the South Station atrium.

    Travelers entering South Station will now be greeted with a new sight: A freshly minted Tavern in the Square, smack-dab in the middle of the atrium.

    Finally. A watering hole for the woebegone commuter.

    Tavern in the Square announced last year that the company would be expanding its brand into South Station. For months, workers performed construction on the back side of the existing Starbucks kiosk to get the location ready.


    This week, the blinders came down to reveal the new space, though staff are still putting on the finishing touches. It is expected to open early next week, said Mike Minichello, a manager of Tavern in the Square.

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    The space features about 40 seats — some lined up at the bar, and some arranged around small two-person tables. The seating area is surrounded by a high fence that helps to shield customers from the hustle and bustle of passing travelers, ostensibly to make bar-goers feel less like they’re in . . . a train station.

    The place will have at least 30 beers on tap and perhaps most importantly, four big-screen TVs — totally clutch for when train station arrivals coincide with the closing minutes of a major sporting event.

    The new location prompted some enthusiasm on Twitter.

    “Really pumped for the new Tavern in the Square at South Station,” wrote one user. “I feel like I’m going to miss a lot of trains now.”

    No patience? No problem


    Fun fact: In December, the average wait time for Registry of Motor Vehicle customers dialing into the agency’s call center was 21 minutes and 21 seconds before getting a live representative on the line.

    That’s a pretty serious chunk of time: Enough minutes to watch an entire episode of “Arrested Development” (fast-forwarding through the commercials and credits). Almost enough to get through one of Rachael Ray’s “30 Minute Meals.” Or to listen to a full one-third of the new Beyonce album.

    The point is, there’s a lot you can do instead of listening to the hold music. And now, the RMV agrees: This week, the agency launched a “virtual hold” service that will allow customers to avoid waiting at the phone and instead opt to receive a return phone call from an RMV representative. Customers tap their telephone number into the system, are informed that they have been placed into a queue, then hang up. Before the end of the day, they receive a call back.

    “With the introduction of these new amenities, we are able to hear the customer’s needs and save them time by returning their call when a customer service agent is free,” newly appointed Registrar Celia Blue said in a statement.

    The new technology was introduced on the RMV’s 857-DOT-8000 hotline Monday — and 80 percent of people opted for the callback.


    Customers won’t always have this option, though. An algorithm uses data on the number of callers in the queue, time of day, average call time, and staffing levels to determine whether a customer will be able to receive a return phone call before that day’s close of business. If the picture looks grim, the computer message tells callers that they will have to stay on the line.

    Taking The Ride for a spin

    At Wednesday’s MassDOT board of directors meeting, Beverly A. Scott, the general manager of the T, could barely contain her glee as she approached the meeting room podium.

    Scott moved somewhat slowly, as she had a medical boot on her left foot, but she smiled broadly.

    “I believe,” Scott proclaimed proudly, “I am the first GM who has been certified with The Ride program!”

    Scott is experiencing problems with her left foot that require her to wear the walking boot for about three months.

    The brace has limited her mobility, making it challenging for her to walk long distances.

    So, she’s signed up to become an official customer of The Ride, the T’s paratransit service for people with disabilities and mobility challenges.

    Scott, who usually commutes to the transportation building from her Back Bay home via bus or the Orange Line, went through all the channels: She filled out an application form and scheduled an in-person interview to ensure that she was qualified for the service.

    The general manager also adopted a pseudonym to ensure that she doesn’t receive any VIP treatment. (She declined to reveal her fake name.)

    Scott said she is keeping a diary of her experiences using The Ride, so she can share her observations with T staff on how the service measures up.

    “I’ll keep you posted,” Scott said.

    Martine Powers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.