I was just adamant about certain things staying off it. There was just some stuff I wanted to stay special, like those early seven-inches. If you have them, then you have them because you were in a certain place at a certain time. I wanted to keep it special for those people if it makes sense. It's not that they’re embarrassing to me, it's because I wanted them to remain intimate with those people who were there when we slept on their floors. We were putting out 500 seven-inches even though people sell them on eBay for more than I had to put them out with. I still prefer it that way. I like that culture; I’m part of that culture. I didn’t want everything homogenized into one album. I'm not a big [fan] of "greatest hits" or whatever, but I understand that's part of what labels do. I wasn't really a big part of it to be honest with you.
This Station Is Non-Operational became At the Drive-In's highest-charting release in the United States, reaching #95 on the Billboard 200 and #3 on the Top Independent Albums chart. Critical reaction to the compilation was very positive. Johnny Loftus of Allmusic stated that it "really makes you miss the focused intensity of the band's salad days", and that because of the stylistic improvisations of the band members' post-At the Drive-In projects The Mars Volta and Sparta "it's easy to forget about At the Drive-In's capacity for convention. Their spectacular live show was a big part of their success. But as This Station Is Non-Operational continually points out, At the Drive-In wrote incredible songs, too." Mike Diver of Drowned in Sound gave the album a perfect score of 10 out of 10, remarking that it "must be listened to with an absolutely open mind. Yes, those earliest efforts from El Gran Orgo are scratchy, gutterside punk at best and, well, utterly underwhelming in absolute fairness. But that's not what ATD-I will be remembered for - it's the tracks from In/Casino/Out and the straw that ultimately broke their collective back, Relationship of Command, that today's fashioncore 'punks' have plumbed almost endlessly for inspiration. And you know what? They still sound amazingly fresh and vital." He noted that the rare tracks make the release attractive to existing fans, but "To the newcomer, though, this record just about transcends essential; really, if you like contemporary punk rock, even the MTV-sanitised version, then you've no excuse whatsoever for not owning this."
Jason Crock of Pitchfork Media noted that the release "aims to be a retrospective in the true sense of the word", ignoring some of the band's strongest songs and singles such as "Invalid Litter Dept." in favor of offering "a snapshot of the band's artistic growth, from class-act emo to muscular modern rock." He criticized the B-side tracks as "unrewarding" and "mildly compelling curios", but accepted them as "simply footnotes to the story told by the first 11 tracks" Remarking on the press' interpretation of the band members' post-At the Drive-In projects Sparta as "accessible" and The Mars Volta as "difficult", he noted that "the push/pull between the two extremes within the songs on This Station Is Non-Operational is seamless. This anthology begs the question: Why should rock fans have to settle for one or the other?" Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone was more critical of the compilation, stating that "Where ATDI's later albums were art-punk cherry bombs packed with cascading shouts and tricky rhythms, most of these singles, rarities, B sides and live cuts sound unfocused -- long on arty twists and youthful bloodletting but short on explosiveness."