Did You Lose Money on Your MetroCard Because of Sandy? Well, Sorry…


On October 2, as a necessary measure for almost every Brooklynite, I bought a 30-day unlimited MetroCard for $104. On October 29, Hurricane (Superstorm? Is that a thing now?) Sandy barreled through New York, crippling electricity, homes, and, specifically in this case, the entire subway system. If we’re looking at the estimated transportation costs (which, in terms of priorities, is nothing compared to the storm’s greater damage), my wallet is down $26.

In a normal situation, if service is down on a subway line you depend on, the MTA refunds you about $3.50 for your troubles. But Sandy was the furthest from normal — the subway system was closed down for days, and, if we multiply $2.50 by 8 million commuters, that’s already a $20 million-a-day loss right there. Factor in the loss of equipment and the wages of workers who worked their asses off to bring back the subway system at a literally remarkable rate, too. What you’re left with is an MTA that is out a ton of money.
This is probably the reason why, as of yesterday, the MTA has made the decision to not refund MetroCards for the time being. Or those who ride the MetroNorth and LIRR. And the explanation we just gave fills in the void left by an agency who is not giving a reason for the decision.
The day after the storm, the MTA set up service buses to make up for the loss of service; and, from someone who took them back and forth across the Williamsburg Bridge, I can vouch for what was done there. The Broadway and Marcy J-M-Z stop was an assembly line of buses — signs directed you to a line of buses waiting to ship off Brooklynites to Manhattan and Manhattanites to Brooklyn. And the best part of it all: It was absolutely free.
So, in that sense, you were refunded with free bus service, whether or not it helped your situation. But still, you bought that MetroCard for the metro.
However, one must keep in mind the sheer magnitude of what went down two weeks ago. That storm wreaked havoc on the MTA — some would argue it was the worst damage ever faced in its history — and the fact that service started the restoration process three days after Sandy made landfall is, as we mentioned before, unreal. The MTA went from rags to riches faster than even chairman Joseph Lhota thought was possible (counterpoint: the R still train isn’t working yet between Jay St. and 34th and Rockaway is still unaccessible. There is still work to be done.)
So in the end, the true refund is the fact that this problem could have taken much longer to fix. I’ll take $26 over that.

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