MTA: No Refunds For Monthly Passes
By NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
|MTA customers will not be refunded for unused days in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Photo by Ira Cohen
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority confirmed on Tuesday that it will not be giving refunds or extending the life of unlimited ride MetroCards to riders who were unable to use subways and buses in the days following Superstorm Sandy. The no-refund policy also pertains to riders who were unable to use the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road.
A spokesperson from the MTA noted that a major factor in the agency’s decision is attributed to the lack of technological advancements necessary to complete such transactions.
“It would be a complicated process,” the spokesperson said.
Superstorm Sandy forced the MTA to shut down its transit system on Oct. 28. Some bus service resumed the following evening and limited subway service was running on Nov. 1. As of press time, the MTA reported riders were still experiencing delays at the 1,2,3,B,D,F,M,N,Q and R trains and the A,C,E,J,Z,L, and S trains still had limited service. The 4,5,6,7 and G trains were listed as having “good service.”
The spokesperson added that the MTA offered free transportation to riders two days after the storm.
While Sandy may have halted subway and bus service in the days following the storm, Kevin Ortiz, an MTA representative, said that its plan to provide riders with cell phone and data service in the upcoming years is still scheduled to be completed on time.
The project, initiated by Transit Wireless, is scheduled for completion in 2018 and will wire all 277 underground stations in New York City, but Ortiz said he is confident that they will be able to finish sooner than the projected year.
“The crux of the entire project is to be able to provide customers with cell phone and data service underground,” said Ortiz. “It’s essentially part of our efforts to bring new technology to our customers. In essence, this is something that is part of our overall goal. As you’ve seen already, we’ve brought in new technology like the countdown clocks.”
By providing data service to riders, Ortiz said the project will also make subway stations safer.
“It also serves as an added benefit in terms of having customers being able to access 911 underground as well, in case of an emergency,” he said.
Thus far, Transit Wireless has signed an agreement with carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, but is looking to sign contracts with other services.
“Transit Wireless continues to negotiate with other wireless carriers at this point. We want to provide a robust and thorough accessibility to our riders when it comes to cell phones and data connectivity,” Ortiz said.
The project will come at no cost to the MTA, as it will be funded by Transit Wireless and wireless carriers. Instead, Ortiz said that it will be a revenue generator.
“The cost of a full build out that Transit Wireless is doing is actually going to be incurred by Transit Wireless along with the cell phone carriers who are paying 100 percent of the cost of the project, which is estimated to be between 150 and 200 million dollars,” he said. “On the other end, the MTA is going to be able to garner revenue from this in the fact that we will split all revenues with Transit Wireless 50-50. They are able get from rent paid by the wireless carriers.”
It is still unclear as to whether T-Mobile and AT&T customers will have to pay extra for the service.
Reach Reporter Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.