Effective immediately, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is extending the validity of one-way and round-trip tickets on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad from 14 days to 60 days. The refund period for those tickets is also being extended – from 30 days to 60 days from the purchase date. Ten-trip tickets will remain valid for six months. The period during which a ten-trip ticket is refundable is being lengthened to match its validity.
The MTA anticipates that this change in the validity period will mean an annual loss of about $6 million in revenue to Metro-North and the LIRR. A $10 refund processing fee will remain in effect to recoup some of the administrative expenses of issuing and mailing refund checks.
“We’re pleased to make it possible to broaden our ticket validity and refund policies to further benefit Long Island Rail Road and Metro North customers,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. “This benefit, combined with the expanded service investments announced in July, shows the MTA’s commitment to customer service.”
The $29 million in service enhancements included increasing half-hourly service during off-peak and weekends on Metro-North’s Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines and adding a new round-trip train West of the Hudson on the Pascack Line. On the LIRR, the improvements included an increase to half-hourly service from Ronkonkoma on weekdays after the morning rush and during some weekend periods and extra trains to accommodate increased rider demand on the Long Beach, Port Jefferson and Montauk Branches.
In December 2010, faced with a significant budget gap, the MTA moved aggressively to cut spending, including a 15 percent across the board reduction in its non-union workforce as well as targeted service reductions. The MTA also the shortened the validity periods on LIRR and Metro-North tickets to reduce revenue loss from uncollected tickets and imposed the refund fee.
These policies generated numerous complaints from customers and elected officials. In response, the MTA has agreed to increase the validity on one-way and round-trip tickets.