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Electeds blast MTA over long wait to replace MetroCards for seniors

TimesLedger Newspapers

The MTA has come under fire for what critics call an intolerably long process in replacing MetroCards lost by the elderly and disabled.

“This is madness,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, considered a possible candidate for mayor next year. “It should not take months and months for senior citizens or people with disabilities to get a lost or stolen MetroCard back in their hands.”

Stringer, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), City Councilwoman Gail Brewer (D-Manhattan) and state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) took part in a news conference last week outside the subway station at 72nd Street and Broadway.

“It can take as long as three months to get a replacement for a MetroCard,” Stringer said. “We’re asking them [the Metropolitan Transportation Authority] to just issue a temporary card for these months until their bureaucracy can issue them the permanent card again.”

But MTA officials said a temporary card would only add another level of production and prolong the time taken to replace the original fare card.

Charles Seaton, an MTA spokesman, said the agency recently hired more people to take care of a backlog of claims of missing MetroCards. The agency had carried out layoffs in 2010, a time of cutbacks in the transit system.

Stringer said the loss of cards for seniors “means paying with exact change [$1.10] on buses and proving their age to bus or subway employees or paying full fare.”

“For many on a tight budget, paying full fare is a serious matter,” Stringer said.

The half-fare MetroCard issued to people over 65 and to disabled people carries a photo of the holder on its left side and a large R, for “reduced fare,” on the right.

Special MetroCards for senior citizens and the disabled are not sold at subway token booths or vending machines but obtained only after the MTA accepts and confirms age and other conditions of the people who apply for a card.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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