It used to be that straphangers late for work or school because they got stuck on the subway could call or write a letter to the MTA New York City Transit. The transit agency would write back -- in about three weeks or so -- with a note detailing whether a delay occurred on a specific line at a particular time.
The online delay verification form, akin to a transit doctor's note, debuted on the MTA’s website in late May. Its usage has steadily increased. In the month of July, New York City Transit reported fielding 5,343 delay verification requests total (2,681 online and 2,662 by phone and letter), compared to just 2,572 total requests in July 2009. It's unclear if usage is growing because more people know about the service or if the people who already know about the system are finding it easier to use.
“Those people who are more computer savvy or are more prone to use a computer are finding that it's a service that's easier to use and it's also quicker,” said Paul Fleuranges, the agency’s vice president for corporate communications.
Fleuranges says the agency used in-house staff to construct the online system and that the idea was to increase efficiency and eventually to save money. A staff of eight fields the requests -- as well as all other complaints related to service issues -- the same number as before. It takes about five days to respond to an online request, compared to about three weeks or more under the old system.