It has become pretty clear that a lot of commuters won’t be doing much commuting in April. So what recourse is there for the MBTA riders who have already bought their monthly passes for April through a work program?
The MBTA does not typically allow refunds. But those riders who get transit passes through work benefit programs should be able to get a credit that will offset their payroll deductions for the period they couldn’t use their passes.
Whether that happens in May or later will likely depend on the state of the pandemic. And if you want credit for your April pass, you have to act soon. Figuring out how to get it will depend to some extent on how you get the pass in the first place.
Many employers use third-party benefit companies, like California-based WageWorks and Waltham-based Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions, to issue passes. These companies each issued similar guidance to their customers.
Commuter rail passengers, who receive a new pass each month in the mail, will be allowed to send it back to the benefit company once they receive it. WageWorks’s website said it is still finalizing the details of its policy, but Edenred said passes should be returned by April 1 to get the credit. Riders should also send back the letter that comes in the mail with the pass, but if that’s not possible for some reason, it would probably be smart to at least send a note with a name and address.
Those who have electronic LinkPasses for the bus and subway get their monthly credit renewed automatically on the same plastic CharlieCard. Both Edenred and WageWorks say these riders should just hang on to the card, but be sure to not use it in the month of April. If the LinkPass goes entirely unused, it will simply transfer to the next month the commuter is signed up to use it. If it’s used even once in April, there’s no recourse, so these riders might be best off just storing the pass in a secure place to make sure they don’t accidentally swipe it sometime that month.
The MBTA also works with some companies who buy the passes directly from the agency and hand them out to workers. Those companies will also be able send the passes back to the T and will get credit that can be applied later. But from there, it’s up to each company to determine how to handle their workers’ payroll deductions going forward; these riders should reach out directly to their employers, the T said in an online FAQ.
Some commuters order monthly passes in advance online directly from the MBTA. If you use use the T’s auto-pay feature, you have until March 21 to cancel, and if you use the online CharlieCard store, until March 24; commuter rail and ferry passes that aren’t canceled in time may be eligible for a rare MBTA refund if they are sent back promptly, the T said in the FAQ.