Court tosses suit by com­muters frus­trated by win­ter ser­vice.

The ap­peals court found that the MBTA did not break a con­tract with rid­ers when it de­layed or can­celed ser­vice due to the ter­ri­ble win­ter 2015 weather.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - KRISTIN TOUSSAINT @kristin­dakota

The Mas­sachusetts Ap­peals Court ruled on Mon­day that the MBTA did not break any con­tract with rid­ers when com­muter rail trains were can­celed and de­layed dur­ing the 2015 win­ter.

The law­suit, filed by com­muter-rail rider Raquel Ro­driguez, al­leged the ser­vice dis­rup­tions along the com­muter rail dur­ing the dis­as­trous win­ter breached an “im­plied con­tract” the tran­sit author­ity had with monthly pass hold­ers “to pro­vide timely, re­li­able com­muter-rail ser­vice.”

The court did ac­knowl­edge that the record-break­ing bliz­zards dur­ing that win­ter “wreaked havoc in and around Boston” and that com­muters were “frus­trated” by the MBTA’s can­cel­la­tions and de­lays.

Ro­driguez al­leged that by pay­ing for a monthly pass, the MBTA was con­tracted to pro­vide “timely, re­li­able” com­muter rail ser­vice. It then broke that obli­ga­tion with re­peated de­lays and can­cel­la­tions and by chang­ing to a “win­ter re­cov­ery sched­ule.”

That sched­ule, ac­cord­ing to Ro­driguez, was “so sparse that it ex­tended the un­re­li­able and un­timely ser­vice through March of 2015.”

How­ever, sim­ply buy­ing a monthly pass — for which Ro­driguez paid $182 — does not guar­an­tee spe­cific ser­vice, es­pe­cially in the ex­treme weather, the court ruled.

“Even the MBTA ac­knowl­edged the in­con­ve­nience caused by its fail­ure,” the court wrote in its de­ci­sion. “How­ever, the pur­chase of a monthly pass on the MBTA is not a guar­an­tee of per­for­mance ac­cord­ing to its pub­lished sched­ule in th­ese ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances.”

Ro­driguez’s claim re­lied on a case from 1867 in which a man sued af­ter the Eastern Rail­road af­ter the train was de­layed nearly two hours to ac­com­mo­date pas­sen­gers who wanted to re­turn to Boston later than the sched­uled time.

That man did not re­ceive “rea­son­able no­tice of the change,” but the court ruled that com­muter-rail rid­ers did re­ceive no­tice of sched­ule changes in 2015, be­cause the MBTA pub­lished a new sched­uled when tran­sit times were al­tered due to win­ter storms.

This rul­ing in Raquel Ro­driguez v. Mas­sachusetts Bay Trans­porta­tion Author­ity up­held a lower court’s de­ci­sion to dis­miss the case.

CZARNECKI/METRO The com­muter rail strug­gled with de­lays in the win­ter of 2015. NICOLAUS

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