What to Do If You're Working From Home But Paid for Your MBTA Monthly Pass

A refund likely isn’t possible, but you can take steps to make sure you get a credit on your account when you eventually return to the office 

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This working from home stuff has Lori Queen pondering something she never thought possible when she watches a Green Line train go rolling by. 

“As sad as it is, I kind of miss the T now!” Queen said with a laugh.  

Under normal circumstances, the West Roxbury commuter hops on the D Line at the Chestnut Hill stop in Newton and takes it to her insurance job downtown.  

But as the daily fleet of empty trains illustrates, Queen is now among the masses no longer taking mass transit.  

Here’s the problem: the commuter found out she’d be working remotely on March 12. That was two days after the deadline to notify her employer or benefits administrator not to deduct the $90 pre-tax money from her paycheck.  

West Roxbury commuter, Lori Queen

“I was concerned the $90 was just going to go to waste and I wasn’t going to use it,” Queen explained to me. “That’s why I reached out to you.” 

Here’s what the NBC10 Boston Investigators found out: The MBTA generally doesn’t refund commuters for tickets or monthly passes.  

However, Queen and others should be able to get a credit for a future month (whenever people eventually return to their offices) if they take the right steps. 

The important thing for people who have monthly subway or bus pass funds loaded directly onto their Charlie Cards? Avoid using your card even once during April.  

That way, the balance will transfer over to the following month. If there is usage on the card, it’s assumed it was for public transit and you lose access to those funds in the future. 

The MBTA is cutting back its service in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s why the MBTA recommends storing the card in a safe place to make sure it’s not accidentally used.  

Commuters get their monthly passes in a variety of different ways, so the most important thing is talking to your company or benefits administrator to ensure you’re taking the needed steps to preserve the transit funds.   

For example, here are some of the guidelines Liberty Mutual is providing employees who participate in the commuter program, according to a company spokesman: 

  • Commuter monthly rail passes can be returned by April 1 to receive credit toward a future pass.
  • Unswiped Charlie Cards will roll over as a credit to the following month and a commuter benefit payroll deduction will not be taken for that ensuing month.
  • Unused funds for Commuter Check Pre-Paid MasterCard users will rollover to the next month.
  • Any credits received will go on the employee’s individual account and can be applied to any future month of their choosing. 

The MBTA has posted this page of FAQs to respond to different customer inquiries surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.  

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