The MBTA Is Considering a System that Writes You a Late Pass

New York already has a website that allows employees to give their boss confirmation that their subway was delayed.



This week, the New York Times brought wider attention to a program that might make this morning’s stranded Red Line commuters jealous: Since 2010, New York’s MTA website has allowed users who were made late by a train delay to get a “late pass.” Users visit a website, input their commute info, and eventually they receive an email confirming that they experienced a delay.

The system is called “subway delay verification,” and you can imagine that Boston’s MBTA might benefit from a similar way of sorting between employees who were legitimately delayed by their train, and those who just use the Green Line as a made-up (but very plausible) excuse.

Lucky for those with suspicious bosses, something a bit lower-tech already exists here. “Right now you can receive something similar by contacting customer service and asking,” MBTA spokesperson Kelly Smith said in an e-mail. The MBTA doesn’t yet have a standardized process, but they’ve been eyeing New York’s program, Smith said.

“The system NYC has is something that’s being considered,” she writes, though she didn’t offer specifics. You ahve to imagine it’s in the MBTA’s interest to roll out this kind of thing, and not just because riders might want it. After all, there are a lot of delays, but not half so many as Boston’s tardiest employees probably pin on them.

New York’s online verification site asks you to input the time you took your journey as well as the line you rode and the station at which you boarded, then a note arrives by email confirming your delay.  Sometimes it can be a bit obtuse, as in the sample email the New York Times obtained, which reads:

There was a disruption in service, specifically signal trouble, sick customer, brakes in emergency and track circuit failure, which caused massive service delays, reroutes and/or trains to be discharged on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, A, B, C, D, F, J, L, M, N, Q and R lines. As a result, any one delay lasted up to 82 minutes.

Boston’s significantly less complex mass transit system might make a similar automated confirmation read a bit smoother. And handing one over would finally dispel your boss’s lingering suspicion that “the Red Line was delayed” is code for “I was hungover.” That said, the MBTA is not your high school principal, and there’s no reason your boss would be forced to care about the trials and tribulations of your daily commute.

Still, it’s helpful to know that a) if you really need it, MBTA customer service will already have your back and b) not so long from now, they might make it even easier for you to ask them for backup.

Steve Annear contributed to this report.