As the Metropolitan Transportation Authority worked to repair historic damage to the subway system after Hurricane Sandy, the question of whether holders of unlimited MetroCards would get any credit for the service disruptions seemed somewhat trivial, if not churlish.
But now, as much of the service has been restored, the answer can be told: No.
The agency said on Monday that it would not provide refunds to riders who purchased 30- or 7-day unlimited MetroCards before Hurricane Sandy.
An official with the authority, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the decision, said processing refunds would have been a logistical nightmare. The authority declined to explain the decision further.
Last year, after Tropical Storm Irene led the authority to shut down the subways, the cards were not extended, and no refunds were offered. But after the 2005 transit strike, riders were compensated with a three-day extension of unlimited cards.
Asked if there was a reason that extending the passes now would be more difficult than it was in 2005, a spokesman for the authority said he did not know.
The storm, which introduced unprecedented flooding to the system’s tunnels and damaged much of its underground equipment, prompted the authority to halt subway and bus service on the evening of Oct. 28. After the resumption of some bus operations in the days after the storm, limited subway service returned on Nov. 1, accompanied by free fares for two days as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a “transportation emergency” for areas affected by the storm. By last week, most major lines were operating along most or all of their typical routes.
But the fate of the unlimited cards, which cost $104 for a 30-day pass and $29 for a 7-day pass, remained one of the nagging, if less pressing, transit questions in the storm’s wake.
Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group, said he was “not shocked” by the authority’s decision, which was made late Friday.
“There’s no way to really calculate the number of trips not taken by the riders,” he said. “At least this time they offered free fares on the Thursday and Friday after the hurricane. I thought that was a good gesture to the riding public.”
On Twitter, some riders have been less forgiving – “how about a refund for the week my ‘unlimited pass’ was useless?” one wrote last week – while others chided the critics. “Y’all had FREE rides!!” another user said.
On Tuesday, public hearings on proposed fare and toll increases, which could raise the base fare for subways and buses to $2.50, will resume.
Source: The NY Times