Bank of America Crystal River exterior

The Bank of America at 450 SE U.S. 19 in Crystal River recently shuttered its drive-thru lanes, a practice that is becoming more common as more people do their banking online or via their phones.

The familiar swishing noise of bank pneumatic tubes that sent cash and other transactions from your car window to the teller is a thing of the past at the Crystal River Bank of America.

If you want the personal touch, you have to go inside.

Bank of America and other financial institutions say drive-thru teller windows are losing favor as more people bank online or via a smartphone app.

The Bank of America branch at 450 SE U.S. 19 in Crystal River last month removed the tellers from its drive-thru lanes and now only has two upgraded ATM machines and a walk-up ATM.

The Beverly Hills Bank of America branch removed its drive-thru tellers about two years ago. For now, the Homosassa and Inverness locations still have theirs in place.

“People are just changing how they are banking — not only with drive-thru but with the brick-and-mortars themselves,” Bank of America spokesman Matthew Daily said.

The numbers are telling: 60% of direct auto loan applications, 20% of consumer mortgage applications and 20% of lending applications were done digitally in the first quarter of 2019, according to Bank of America.

No employees lost their jobs at the Crystal River branch. Instead, the tellers who normally manned the drive-thru windows were reassigned to other duties, he said.

Daily said Bank of America is constantly evaluating their branches and adapting them to meet customer demands.

For example, in some markets, the bank is teller-free: Customers go inside and use machines where they virtually talk with a bank representative via video chat.

Fewer people are coming in for face-to-face teller transactions. Bank deposits and the like can be done online or via mobile phones.

“(Instead) people are coming in for more financial guidance or advice on more complex topics,” he said.

One of the raps against the elimination of drive-thru lanes is that it presents a hardship for disabled people who can’t walk inside the bank. Tellers are directing those clients to digital opportunities or to the remaining drive-thru ATMs, he said.

Other banking institutions are also closing drive-up teller windows. The number of bank offices has declined 6.6% between 2013 and 2018, compared with an 8.8% reduction in metropolitan counties, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

“While rural counties have had the smallest decline in office numbers, an office closure in a rural county is felt more keenly by a community than a closure in a metropolitan county, since rural bank offices are fewer in number and often serve large geographic areas,” the FDIC said.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

(3) comments

MichaelTrombley

Good move on Bank of America's part, and actually most banks are getting away from drive up tellers. With my banking app on my phone and computer banking, I haven't stepped foot in a bank in years.

JENNIA

I don't believe any of this bunk. All these businesses really just want customers to do ALL the work. There are plenty of people that want to use a drive thru. Everything is getting automated because ...WE HAVE NO CHOICE ABOUT IT. If it was up to these banks they would just assume they get a good cut of everybody's pay, retirement, or Social Security Check......without even having to deal with all us annoying customers. They have ALWAYS been just a bunch if crooks good at legalized robbery. Give me a break Chronicle..... This story makes me want to throw up.

MAEL

Not sure what duties they were reassigned to....it would be nice if they were reassigned to the teller windows inside so there isn't a line every time you go into do business.

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