Last week, for the first time since the end of December, I had to buy a new 30-day MetroCard, and although I’ve long known that this card would set me back a triple-digit figure, I wasn’t prepared for the sticker shock. That $104 fee is a steep one. For those still using their stockpiled $89 cards, today is a big day for at 11:59 p.m. tonight, the sun will set on any remaining 30-day cards, and those cards will expire.
To remind customers of this sunset date, the MTA sent out a press release yesterday with information on refunds. The authority says that customers still holding 30-day cards can get a pro-rated refund by mailing cards along with a questionnaire back to New York City Transit. The forms are available at subway station booths — if you can find one with a station agent — and on buses throughout the city. They’re also available as a PDF right here. For those who want to take care of their return in person, head to the MetroCard Customer Service Center at 3 Stone Street in Manhattan. I wonder how many people will find their remaining fare cards inactive tomorrow morning.
In other fare hike-related news, Long Island State Senators are upset with the MTA over its new refund policy. When the fares went up, the MTA changed its refund policy. It now charges a $10 processing fee and offers refunds only within 30 days of purchase. Oftentimes, the fee is more than the price of the ticket.
So State Senator Jack Martins from Mineola has called upon the MTA to end this practice. In his press release, he slammed the MTA for the Senate-approved payroll package as well. Calling it an “injustice,” he said, “This processing fee is yet one more gimmick by the MTA to pass on costs to the customers who have already had to bear the burden of increased tickets prices and service cuts. If that wasn’t enough, local businesses, municipalities and school districts have also been hit with a payroll tax to support the MTA. The MTA has showed that it has no problem taking money but refuses to refund it when the service is not used.”
During a hearing today in front of the Senate Transportation Committee, Walder defended the refund fee. He said that it isn’t free for the MTA to process refunds, but that’s almost besides the point. Martins is yet another Senator who is content to take money from the MTA with one hand while bashing them with the other. He doesn’t explain why the MTA shouldn’t institute a processing fee or why they should even bother to accept returns in the first place. It might be a steep fee, but the state’s inability to find creative funding solutions for transit comes with political repercussions.