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1,900 buy Institute-subsidized MBTA passes

Attracted by the new $10-a-month subsidy from MIT, approximately 1,900 MIT commuters have signed up to buy MBTA passes for October, the Parking and Transportation Office reported. This is approximately double the volume of non-subsidized T passes previously sold through the Cashier's Office.

Applications for T passes for November may be submitted until September 30 to departmental parking coordinators or the parking office in Rm 16-539. The early deadline is necessary because the MBTA requires MIT to submit its order a month in advance. Payment must be via employee payroll deduction or student billing to a bursar account.

About 950 graduate and undergraduate commuters, 550 monthly paid staff and faculty and 400 weekly paid employees signed up, according to John McDonald of the parking office.

The subsidy program, announced in July, is available to non-residential registered commuting students who have a valid MIT ID card and no MIT parking privileges, and to commuting MIT-paid employees who don't have a monthly parking pass. MIT employees who buy occasional parking passes (limited to eight days per month) may also buy the subsidized T passes.

Those who don't qualify for the commuting subsidy but still want a T pass may purchase it at the Cashier's Office (Rm 10-180) at the regular price during the last four business days of each month. Between the first and fifteenth of each month, passes for that month may be purchased at Back Bay Station, North Station and South Station.

Following are some answers to frequently asked questions about the program, compiled by the Parking and Transportation Office.

Q: How do I apply for the subsidized T pass?

A: Fill out the MBTA Pass application available from your department's parking coordinator, or from the Parking and Transportation Office.

Q: What forms of payment are accepted?

A: The fee for subsidized passes must be either payroll-deducted or billed to a bursar account. Cash or checks will not be accepted.

Q: When do I apply?

A: Employee applications must be received by the parking office no later than the last business day of the month, about five weeks prior to the pass month. For example, applications for a November T pass must be received by September 30. Students sign up by the semester, with applications due by the last business day of the month, two months prior. Thus, student applications for a pass good for February through May are due by December 31.

Q: What if I don't realize I need a T pass until after the monthly application deadline?

A: You will still be able to purchase a non-subsidized pass from the Cashier's Office but will have to wait until the next month to receive an MIT-subsidized pass. If students miss the semester billing deadline, they may sign up for the next monthly pass and will be billed by the month.

Q: Do I have to fill out an application each month?

A: No; only one application is needed per academic year (September through August). Passes will be ordered for you and the appropriate charges will be deducted each month until you cancel your account. Students may elect which semesters they want a pass.

Q: How do I cancel?

A: Forms are available in the parking office to cancel T pass accounts. This form must be submitted no later than the 15th of the month before you cancel (or if the 15th is not a work day, the last work day before the 15th). For example, a cancellation must be received by September 13 to cancel for the month of October.

Q: What if I want to be billed by the semester?

A: Students may be billed in each of four semesters in 1996-97: October to December, January, February to May, and June to August. Commuting students must sign up by the dates indicated on the application to receive a T pass for the following semester. Just as you would pre-pay one lump sum to the MBTA for the semester, one lump sum will be billed to your bursar account in the month before the semester starts.

Q: When will the charges be deducted from my account?

A: Fees for passes will be either payroll-deducted or billed to bursar accounts the month before the pass month. For example, the fee for November's pass will be deducted in October. All payroll deductions will be made on the staff payroll week, so weekly paid employees will be deducted once per month.

Q: I take the T most of the time. Can I get any kind of parking permit for the days I need to drive?

A: Yes. MIT employees and faculty can elect the Occasional Parking option, which is limited to eight days per month. You cannot receive any other type of parking permit and a subsidized T pass at the same time.

Q: How do I receive my pass each month?

A: The application form indicates three locations where you may elect to pick up your T pass by showing your MIT ID card. Passes will be available at your specified location during the last three work days of each month. At the end of the month, the parking office will not return any unclaimed passes to the MBTA. Instead, they will be available for pickup at the parking office by the people who ordered them during the month of that T pass.

Q: I work on campus but I am not paid directly by MIT. Can I get a subsidized T pass?

A: No, but the Cashier's Office will continue to sell regular non-subsidized passes.

Q: Can I get more than one pass per month?

A: No. The MIT subsidy allows for only one pass per individual each month.

Q: I've filled out the application form; where do I send it?

A: Employee applications must be approved by your department's parking coordinator before submission to the parking office. Non-resident students may send their applications directly to that office (Rm 16-539).

Q: Are any other types of transportation being subsidized?

A: No. At this time only MBTA passes (Local Bus, Subway, Combo, Combo Plus and Zones 1 through 9) are subsidized. No other types of mass transit, such as water shuttles, private buses or taxis, are included in the program.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 11, 1996.

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