The Long Island Railroad is in the midst of fixing a huge billing snafu that occurred 5 days ago. On October 1st, a record of almost 30,000 tickets were sold via credit or debit cards at various ticket machines throughout New York City & Long Island. This does not come as a surprise considering it was the first day of the month (a Monday to boot) which is usually when many are buying their LIRR tickets for the week or month. Unfortunately the record use did not bring good results to those customers & the MTA.
Almost 2000 commuters were double billed for purchases they made with their credit or debit card. LIRR officials say the problem arose from a software glitch which affected all 269 automated ticket machines throughout the system. Officials say that most riders have already been reimbursed. According to spokesman Joe Calderone, commuters “should see a double charge on their statement and then a credit, without having to do anything.”
Unfortunately for the MTA, they seemed to be the last to know of the problem. They did not know about the issue until Thursday when they were flooded with complaints. As usual the MTA left customers in the dark about the issue as they did not inform everyone until Friday after being contacted by Newsday. It took almost 36 hours after learning about the problem for the MTA to alert commuters by e-mail & via a service alert on their website.
Spokesman Joe Calerdone commented on the issue by stating:
“We were trying to get a handle on the scope of the issue. We have a much better understanding of it and are making full notification now through both print and electronic media”
LIRR General Manager for Passenger Services Kevin Fehn commented about the glitch saying it was “not something we’ve ever had to deal with before.”
The glitch occurred due to the limitations in the billing software. It seems that the software has a transaction limited which was never surpassed before. When the limit was surpassed, the software billed some of the transactions on Monday which was followed up by those same transactions being billed again on Tuesday. Mr. Fehn said the LIRR had no idea that a transaction limit was in place. He said that the German company Scheidt & Bachmann are busy working on isolating & fixing the issue system wide.
One passenger came out & commented about his ordeal. 31 year old Bellmore resident Stephen Faulkner said he was billed twice for his $203 monthly pass. He contacted the LIRR immediately after noticing the billing error & was told he would be reimbursed. Since that phone call Mr. Faulkner has stated: “I just checked, and it hasn’t been refunded yet.” His statement was made as of Friday morning.
The LIRR has done business with Scheidt & Bachmann since 1986 with these machines having been in use since 2001. However this is not the first issue the LIRR has dealt with this year involving these machines. This past April, the LIRR had to issue approximately 400 refunds when these machines took the passengers money but did not issue a ticket.
I sit here in astonishment wondering how something as simple as a billable transaction could turn into such a huge mess. First off how do you not know the full technical specifications of devices you paid for? Anyone with a clue would make sure these machines are capable of not having credit card limitations. This concept seems so obvious considering Mr. Fehn acknowledged that more & more commuters are using forms of credit cards to purchase tickets. He also noted that credit card purchases are up 25% this year compared to the same period last year.
One has to laugh at the statement Mr. Fehn said regarding possible overdrafts. Mr. Fehn said the LIRR would “consider” refunding those charges. HELLO!!!!!!, you owe it to your customers to refund overdraft charges. The commuter should not bare a penny of responsibility for a glitch that was out of their control. Who in charge over there even thought that this issue would have to be discussed? This is one of those clear cut issues where only one choice exists.
Who needs comedy clubs or movies when you have the MTA playing 365 days a year!You might enjoy reading these related entries:
- LIRR Billing Snafu Update
- LIRR Billing Issue Strikes Again!
- Credit/Debit Card Metrocard Service Alert
- LIRR Sees A Rise In Cashless Riders
- New LIRR Fares Take Effect Dec 30th
This week’s “Hypocrite Of The Week” winner is none other than Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. Earlier this week the Sunset Park based democrat who is best known for authoring the nation’s first state law prohibiting the use of hand held cell phones while driving, announced his desire to see a law passed that would ban advertisements touting alcoholic beverages on buses & subways. Mr. Ortiz had these comments relating to why he feels such a law should be created:
“We have so many problems in our society with underage drinking that we don’t need this kind of advertising in our public transit systems. They are spending all this money on advertising featuring beautiful young women and handsome young men because they want us to believe that if you drink, that’s what you’re going to look like. But if we can pass this in New York, I think the whole nation will pay attention.” He also said the industry is targeting a “vulnerable population.”
Mr. Ortiz’s idea has already received instant support from New York’s Office Of Alcohol & Substance Abuse Services whose spokesman Joe Morrissey said this plan would be “consistent with our strategy of preventing alcoholism across the state.” However not everyone is in support of Mr. Ortiz’s proposal. A Washington D.C. lobbying group, The Distilled Spirits Council shared their feelings through spokesman Frank Coleman which argues “Blanket bans are not effective.”
However Mr. Ortiz is not just targeting companies promoting their alcoholic products. His bill also includes the ban of ads from alcohol makers that encourage people to drink responsibility. Mr. Ortiz shared his feelings on such ads by saying:
“We don’t need Captain Morgan & Anheuser-Busch to tell us to drink responsibly.”
As far as the MTA is concerned, such a ban could hurt their bottom line. The MTA earns about $100 million a year in advertising revenue. Alcohol ads account for $3-5 million dollars of that revenue yearly. For an agency that can use every dollar it gets, losing such money due to the brainstorm of a hypocrite can’t be seen as a good thing. This leads to the burning question as to why I feel Mr. Ortiz is such a hypocrite!
I am calling out Mr. Felix Ortiz as a hypocrite due to the fact he is flip flopping on his beliefs. He feels that alcohol advertisements in mass transit showcase themselves in a bad light especially to those who don’t need to see such a message. However can he explain why as chairman of the Assembly Committee On Alcoholism he is pushing to lower the legal drinking age in New York from 21 to 18!
How can he stand there & preach about alcohol makers showcasing the drinking lifestyle in a harmful way to commuters yet feel the drinking age should be lowered? When he came up with this hypocritical brainstorm, did he forget that many of these so called commuters who don’t need to get this message actually are young, lets say around the age of 18? The same age he feels is the correct age to be able to responsibly handle such a dangerous thing. There is absolutely no way he can play both sides of this issue & come out ahead of the curve.
The last time I checked if anyone is going to be tempted into activities like drinking alcohol it would be minors & teenagers who are about to become legal adults at the age of 18. I would love for him to explain how he is so concerned about people getting the wrong idea from ads when the majority who would do such a thing happen to be around or at the age of what he feels should be the legal drinking age. Talk about pulling a “John Kerry” (for all my Republican readers out there)!
One thing he seems to be forgetting about is that if someone gets into drinking from seeing an ad on the bus or subway, they have bigger issues to worry about & a ban won’t come close to fixing them. I plan on contacting Mr. Ortiz to share my feelings on his showcasing of hypocrisy. I am sure it will be hard to get a response but I will not let that stop me from expressing my concerns!You might enjoy reading these related entries:
- MTA Continues With Its Ambitious Advertising Plan
- MTA Looking To Ads To Add Financial Muscle
- Fox5 Takes A Look At A Rowdy LIRR Train
- MTA Unveils Fully Wrapped Shuttle Train
- MTA Looking Into Station Sponsorships Again
The MTA has posted a service alert regarding 4 train service. The alert is:
Due to a police investigation, trains are bypassing the Mount Eden Station in both directions.
Please expect delays in service on the line at this time.You might enjoy reading these related entries:
- 1 Train Service Alert
- Service Alert 4 Train (Updated: 5:58 pm)
- 6 Train Service Alert (Updated: 11:39 am)
- C & E Train Service Alert
- N, Q, & R Service Alert
The title of this entry is quite accurate if you ask me. Forget the fact that the latest rider report card grades are in for the J & Z with an outcome that won’t please the MTA. I felt these lines were subpar for years & it seems most J & Z riders agree as both lines got an overall grade of a C-.
The full results will most likely be released later today but some of the results have been leaked to the public. From what we know so far, this is hands down the worst grade out from the report cards so far. Out of the 21 individual category grades, the J & Z earned a D+ or lower in 38% of them (8 out of 21)! They also earned a C+ or above in only ONE category. Ouch! The highest grade was a B- for Metrocard Vending Machine (MVM) availability. The lowest grade was a D for the ability to hear station announcements.
The 3 top issues riders had with the J & Z were:
Wait times for trains
Sense of security aboard the trains
In my opinion these three reasons are dead on & cover most of why the J & Z are subpar lines. It is funny that security was one of the main issues as I recently read a topic asking about it on the J train. The topic in question was posted on The Straphangers Campaign’s Rider Diaries forum.
I personally try to stay away from the line unless absolutely necessary. While I feel it serves as a superior alternative to the E train for Queens residents going to Lower Manhattan, it does have its share of sketchy riders. I sometimes ride the line for a couple of stops when I am trying to get back home from the lower east side & need the Lexington Avenue lines. I always notice how sketchy some of the riders look at those times of the night. I have heard from friends who live along the line that they don’t like to be on the train past certain stops at certain times of the night. I hear the line is notorious for its share of muggings which does not surprise me based on what I’ve seen.
As far as comments go, some have chimed in about the results. Gene Russianoff of The Straphangers Campaign had this to say:
“If the next two or three reports show the same kind of numbers, it will be disappointing. The similarity might just reflect the fact that, in the view of the public, the transit system is performing about average or below average.”
NYC Transit president Howard Roberts seemed confused by the results based on what he has seen. Here is what he had to say:
“The news riders are giving us doesn’t reconcile with the statistical performance standards we are currently using. Clearly we need to take a harder look at not only what we’re doing but how we’re doing it.”
I do want to quickly address how disappointed I am about the amount of votes received for this report card. The MTA handed out more than 58,000 report cards & they only received approximately 2000 replies! I’m sorry but that is completely unacceptable from riders who constantly complain about the service they receive from the MTA. Considering that some of the cards were probably filled out online, hardly any physical cards were mailed back in.
How can people expect change when they sit back & not say a word to the right people? The lack of effort from riders really disgusts me when you know these are the same riders who are first to criticize. So you have the energy to complain until the cows come home but can’t fill out a card to backup your complaints? Shame on you!!!!!!!!You might enjoy reading these related entries:
- As Expected, The 2 Produces More Of The Same
- J & Z Supposedly Show Slight Improvement
- 7 Train: Your Grade Is In!
- Running Out Of Ways To Say This….
- Multiple Rider Report Card Grades Are In….
There are more riders depending on the NYC subway to get around. Wow, who would have guessed? The captain obvious news comes from the American Public Transportation Association’s report that was released yesterday. According to the report, the NYC subway had the fifth highest jump amongst major subway & railroad systems throughout the U.S.
The NYC subway has seen a 3.9% increase in ridership over the first half of 2007 compared to the same period last year. The amount of rides taken so far this year is around the 1 billion mark. Yes, I said 1 BILLION! I have to admit the number made me take a step back & think about it for a minute. I would love to get the final tally for this year. Hopefully that information will be made public one day.
However the NYC subway was not the only form of local mass transit to make the list. The Port Authority’s PATH service finished second with a whopping 7% increase in ridership. Not to be forgotten about, the MTA’s Staten Island Railway checked in third with a 6% increase in ridership. The one form of transportation in our area that saw a decrease was bus service. Bus service dropped by half a percent during the first half of the year.
NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges chimed in with a few comments about why we have such a drastic increase in ridership:
“Each day, New Yorkers vote with their MetroCards to the tune of 7.2 million ride. We are carrying more customers today than we have in 35 years.”
This pretty much shows why the MTA must step up its game & provide better services & facilities for an increasing ridership that helps run this city.You might enjoy reading these related entries: