Wednesday, June 15, 2011

LIRR ala Carte

Imagine going into a fine restaurant and ordering a 5 course meal only to be told that you must pay in advance and use a separate method of payment for each course.
Now imagine that restaurant is hurting for business, not really a stretch since that policy alone would lose quite a few patrons.
No I am not talking about the Seinfeld Soup Nazi but rather about Long Island's own MTM - mass transit moron, the Long Island Rail Road.
Once again the Metropolitan Transit Authority has shown how anti-cunsumer their operation is with their latest ruling against their most loyal of rider, the "Mail & Ride" monthly ticket purchaser.
If you are lucky enough to still have a job while Congress works on far more important issues such as how to get re-elected and help billionaires out with tax breaks then you know how expensive a monthly ticket is.
If you live in "Zone 3" for example you are charged $254 per month for the pleasure of waiting for an overcrowded, dirty, and late train every day.
But if you are also working for a forward thinking considerate employer you may be enrolled in the 'TransitChek" program which allows you to have up to $230 of pre-tax dollars per month deducted from your salary to pay for a portion of your commute.
Mind you the money is yours but can only be used for purchasing commutation so unless you buy a railroad ticket it's useless.
So how does one pay the extra amount above the $230?
Well until this month all you had to do was drop off the vouchers in a Mail&Ride envelope at Penn Station and the balance owed would be taken from a credit card you had on file with them. 
But that was way too easy for the customer so a policy change was necessary!
Now you have to go on-line and register the TransitChek card to deposit the amount into your account by the 23rd or 24th of every month and immediately mail a check for the balance.  The check must get to the Gods of the LIRR before the first of the month or your ticket will be invalidated!!!
Unlike restaurants who routinely split a bill and charge you and a friend half the tab the LIRR has not figured out how to allow the customer to use 2 credit cards for the same transaction.
And for their ineptitude you are punished!
But wait, it gets even better if you have $230 taken out of your salary for the month and you live in a less expensive zone or go on vacation and have too much money on the card.
If you do not prepare in advance you will be left with a balance on the card with no way to use it!
The railroad's response is an old one, use it or lose it!
Such compassion!
The bottom line is this: Do what the LIRR says, the way the LIRR says, and when the LIRR says or, wait for it - NO TICKET FOR YOU!


Charlene said...

Count yourself lucky to have mass transit, payroll deduction pre-tax for paying the majority of the cost and all for less than $300 a month!

I live in a city where a milion people live in the metropolitan area and the only way to get to work is in your car or a personally arranged car pool, in traffic jams over washboard roads. If someone has a fender bender you're an hour or two late for work.

Cousin Bruce said...

Sorry to hear that Charlene.
I agree we are somewhat lucky in NY but then again we have paid for the service or lack thereof with very high taxes and incredibly high cost of living.
I'm not complaining about that since we all make our beds. The problem is the politicians and corporations have teamed up to ruin everything we worked hard to attain and once had.
There is no way we are going 'back to before.' Things will only get worse as more and more of the entities in power feel their oats and reduce benefits for the common citizen.
I shudder to think what will become worse for you and for others living in cities with less services to begin with.
Unless something drastic happens or Americans wake up and stop rewarding Republicans for their bad anti-social behavior we are headed for a long period of dark times in this soon to be third world country.
Or not :-)
Please try to avoid accidents, thanks for the comment and good luck!!!