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Commuter files class-action suit against T, commuter rail for winter failures

A commuter has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and its commuter rail operator for its “complete and utter failure” to provide reliable service this winter.

Raquel Rodriguez argued that the MBTA and its commuter rail operator should provide refunds for the customers who bought monthly passes in January, February, or March, according to a lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court last week. When the commuter rail operator, Keolis, failed to provide “timely and reliable service” during those months, the T and Keolis breached their contracts with the customers who bought the passes, the suit said.

Robert Richardson, the attorney who represents Rodriguez, called the T’s response to the storms “inexcusable.”

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“If you don’t provide the service you’re supposed to provide, you should refund people,” said Richardson. “That’s how our economy works.”

After a series of snowstorms walloped the transit system in late January and February, the T’s commuter rail system operated significantly fewer trains. Keolis took more than six full weeks to fully restore its schedule.

Keolis spokeswoman Leslie Aun said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Joe Pesaturo, a T spokesman, said in an e-mail that the transit system does not believe the lawsuit has any merit. He added that the T “has already taken steps to thank customers for their patience and loyalty over the winter.”

As a goodwill gesture, the T offered free rides on trains, buses and ferries on April 24 and offered a discount on monthly passes for May. But the lawsuit filed on April 22 argues that the discounts were not enough.

Monthly passes for the commuter rail can be a significant investment, costing between $75 and $362. Commuter rail fares make up about 30 percent of the MBTA’s overall fare revenue.

Richardson did not provide more information about Rodriguez, who is only described as a “resident of the Commonwealth” in the lawsuit.

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Richardson said he is looking for others to join the lawsuit through a website, mbtaclassaction.com. He said he has fielded “thousands of inquiries” through e-mails and phone calls, but declined to release how many have joined the suit so far.


Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com.