State Senate OKs repeal of LIRR ticket refund surcharge

Jack M. Martins

June 16, 2011

From Newsday

By Alfonso A. Castillo

State lawmakers yesterday passed a bill to repeal the Long Island Rail Road’s unpopular new ticket refund policy, which charges a ticket refund surcharge that can cost more than the ticket itself.

By a vote of 62 to 0, the State Senate approved the bill, which would eliminate the $10 processing fee for all LIRR ticket refunds. The bill also increases the period during which customers can apply for a refund from two weeks to six months.

The bill still must pass the State Assembly, where it is currently in the corporations, authorities and commissions committee, before going to the governor to be signed into law.

The fee was enacted in January as part of an effort to increase fare revenue across the Metropolitan Transportation Authority by 7.5 percent.

“Customers have had to deal with numerous service cuts and fare increases imposed by the MTA. To also charge consumers a fee to get a refund on a service they did not use is indicative of how the MTA has been treating its customers,” said state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), who sponsored the bill.

New Hyde Park resident Susan McClellan brought the policy to Martins’ attention when she tried to get a refund for an unused $10 ticket, and was told that there was a $10 surcharge.

“I really did feel that it was an unfair policy…I’m glad that people listened.” Said McClellan, a structural engineer, who applauded the bill’s Senate passage.

LIRR spokesman Sam Zambuto said it costs the railroad $15 to process each refund, and the surcharge allows the agency to “recoup a portion of the cost.”