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LIRR: Riders buy new MetroCards as railroad takes steps 'to ensure this doesn't happen' again

A subway rider swipes a MetroCard at a

A subway rider swipes a MetroCard at a turnstile. Credit: Charles Eckert

Thousands of Long Island Rail Road commuters Tuesday had to buy new 30-day MetroCards, as Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials put safeguards in place to avoid repeating a mistake that rendered nearly 10,000 fare cards useless, an LIRR spokesman said.

"Steps are being taken, and new controls will be put in place, to ensure this doesn't happen in the future," MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said, referring to the glitch that made MetroCards purchased as part of LIRR and Metro-North Railroad monthly tickets for December unusable on Monday.

Donovan said that glitch affected 7,153 monthly LIRR tickets, and 2,828 monthly tickets sold by Metro-North.

The computer programming error amounted to invalid start and end dates being coded onto the monthly MetroCards, in effect rendering them expired before they were ever activated, Donovan said.

Commuters were told they would have to buy new MetroCards to cover their fares the remainder of the month. All customers who paid for their monthly tickets by credit card should receive account credits this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday -- the day the accounts are scheduled to be billed for December, Donovan said.

Riders who wrote checks as part of the Mail & Ride program also will receive account credits, Donovan said.

Those credits are for $119 -- $6 more than the cost of a new monthly MetroCard, in recognition that some commuters may have paid out of pocket for subway or bus rides Monday morning, Donovan said.

LIRR Commuter Council chairman Mark Epstein urged the agency to honor the faulty passes for at least the rest of the week, if not the month, and mail new monthly MetroCards to affected customers.

With Alfonso A. Castillo

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