Passenger Sues MBTA on Customer Appreciation Day

Commuters at North Station wait for a train during the MBTA’s Customer Appreciation Day.
Commuters at North Station wait for a train during the MBTA’s Customer Appreciation Day. –The Boston Globe

The MBTA celebrated “Customer Appreciation Day’’ Friday with free rides, fare discounts – and a lawsuit.

The free day cost the T around $5 million, and the suit seeks more of the agency’s money. A monthly pass holder filed a complaint this week on behalf of herself and others who accuse the MBTA and its operator, Keolis, of breach of contract and unjust enrichment because of its unreliable service this winter. Customers had to put up with cancellations or delays as Boston was hit with more than 110 inches of snow.

The lawsuit says that’s no excuse.

“Years of MBTA mismanagement and a culture of indifference are the real reasons the MBTA failed its customers and provided substandard service this past January, February and March,’’ the suit’s website reads.

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The firm cites statistics from Gov. Charlie Baker’s action plan as evidence, including the unspent $2.3 billion of the MBTA’s budget from the last five years and the $66.5 million spent on 444 salaried employees making an average of nearly $150,000 a year.

“Maybe the MBTA should have spent this money on the proper equipment that would allow it to effectively deal with winter storms,’’ the site reads.

The complaint alleges that the MBTA and Keolis are unfairly holding the money of monthly pass holders, and that 15 percent discount for May passes as well as free-fare days do not count as adequate refunds.

According to the site:

This empty gesture falls well short of fair compensation for what amounted to “service’’ consisting of: countless cancellations and delays; constantly changing schedules falling short of a full schedule; an ineffective alert and/or notice system to keep riders informed of cancellations, delays and schedule changes; and complete indifference by the MBTA towards its customers.

These issues resulted in service outages well above 15% of full service or the equivalent of one day of free rides.

“The MBTA has not seen the civil complaint,’’ MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in a statement.

The complaint did not request a specific amount of monetary relief, but instead stated that the plaintiff, Raquel Rodriguez, and others like her, want the the maximum amount allowed as determined by a trial. Her lawyers, the law firm of Richardson and Cumbo, are seeking other complainants to join the suit.

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