'Massive unhappiness' leads railroad to revert to old system

For the past eight months, you had two weeks to use your Metro-North train ticket before it expired. That change — five and half months less than travelers into and out of Manhattan were accustomed to for years — led to many upset travelers.

But Metro-North Railroad is apparently listening to its customers and re-extending expiration dates for train tickets to the previous six-months policy starting next month, the MTA announced Thursday, Aug. 23.

Why the change? "Massive unhappiness," Marjorie Anders, a Metro-North spokesman, told Hersam Acorn Thursday. "There were a lot of complaints. So we just decided to ease up a little."

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 4, one-way and round-trip tickets will be extended from 14 days to 60 days — including the day of purchase — and the refund period for those tickets is being extended from 30 days to 60 days from purchase date, according the railroad. Tickets purchased on or before Labor Day will only be valid for 14 days.

Ten-trip tickets will remain valid for six months. The period during which a 10-trip ticket is refundable is being lengthened from 30 days to six months (includes day of purchase) to match the validity period.

But the $10 refund processing fee will remain in effect.

Metro-North decided to reduce the time tickets were valid late last year, having the new policy take effect on the first of the year. Some commuter advocates called it just another way of taxing riders, many of whom still can't get a seat on all trains into and out of the city.

"We think it is going to be well received," Anders said. "We just went a little too far. We are in a serious budget crunch and we were looking for every single way to increase revenue."