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Transit Agency Will Consider Refunds for Subway Riders Stranded by Flooding


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Transit Agency Will Consider Refunds for Subway Riders Stranded by Flooding


Published: August 10, 2007



Subway riders may get a rebate on their MetroCards because of the extensive disruptions and delays caused by Wednesday’s flooding, the executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said yesterday.


The director, Elliot G. Sander, said at a news conference that he would ask a task force examining the widespread flooding to also take up the issue of whether to grant a MetroCard refund.


“I think it’s an interesting suggestion, I think its worthy of our consideration,” Mr. Sander said when asked about a possible rebate. “We serve the public. We care deeply about the public. That’s why I’m here.”


Mr. Sander said he had not thought about such a proposal before he was asked about it by a reporter, and he was not able to provide details of how a possible rebate might work.


After the 60-hour subway and bus strike in December 2005, the transportation authority gave riders a three-day extension on 7-day and 30-day MetroCards. Riders with pay-per-ride MetroCards did not receive any extra rides.


It was not clear how an equitable rebate could be set up for the flooding, however, since many people with pay-per-ride MetroCards paid to enter the subway system, but left when they found that trains were not running.


“They didn’t treat their customers very well” during the flooding, said Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group.


"They have amends to make. It won’t reverse what happened, but it shows that the often faceless M.T.A. officials are human beings.”


Mr. Sander and other transit officials also provided some preliminary details yesterday about the authority’s response to the flooding, which occurred after a sudden early morning storm doused the city, dropping 2.5 inches of rain on Central Park and nearly 3.5 inches on Kennedy International Airport.


Because the rain fell in a short period of time, it overloaded sewers and subway pump rooms and filled many sections of the underground tunnels with water.


The senior vice president for subways of New York City Transit, Mike Lombardi, said at the news conference that maintenance crews used portable pumps, which the agency has in case of flooding, at only one station.


Mr. Lombardi said that the pumps, which weigh as much as 500 pounds and are primarily meant to be used when flooding occurs in subway stations, rather than in tunnels, were used only at the Parsons Boulevard station on the F line in Jamaica, Queens.


That station, at the foot of a steep hill, experienced some of the worst flooding on Wednesday, Mr. Lombardi said, adding that the water there rose to the platform level and that several of the pumps were used to augment the capacity of two permanent pump rooms at the station.


Mr. Lombardi said that there was significant flooding at about half a dozen locations in the subway system, but he said the portable pumps were not suitable for use at the other locations.


He did not identify the locations or say how many portable pumps the agency has.


But he said that even if the authority had had the pumps already in place at critical locations around the subway system, that would not have prevented Wednesday’s widespread service disruptions and delays, because so much water poured into the subway so rapidly.


At best, he said, if the pumps had been at Parsons Boulevard before the storm, service could have been restored only about an hour earlier than it was. “The water was just too much to handle,” he said.

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