Unless Con Edison is forced to reimburse thousands of rail commuters for lost trips on their monthly and weekly tickets, Connecticut commuters will be footing the bill for most of their refunds.
But given Metro-North's track record, rail riders are lucky to be getting anything. Refunds are unprecedented on the commuter line, which is known for its fragility before the weather.
The fact is, 65 percent of Connecticut service is paid by the state and commuters, while 35 percent is paid by New York.
The MTA board last week approved a refund that could total $2 million for the first week's inconvenience. But just how credit will be distributed to passengers had not yet been announced.
Details are expected soon. In the meantime, customers with monthly or weekly tickets should hang on to them.
At the time of the 138,000-volt feeder cable failure in Harrison, N.Y., a second, back-up line was out of service. A mistake in freezing the secondary line was the apparent cause of the outage, Con Edison admitted.
But Bob McGee, spokesman for the utility, said Thursday it's too early to say whether Con Ed will pony up for the riders.
"Right now, we're focused on just getting service restored, and we'll deal with everything else down the line," McGee said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy targeted Con Ed as the culprit early in the line's shutdown.
"The decision to reimburse commuters is unprecedented, and we are working out exactly how it will be implemented," said Andrew Doba, the governor's spokesman. "Considering that Con Ed has essentially taken responsibility for the service disruption, the governor continues to believe that they should be responsible for the reimbursement."
Cameron said he believes whatever refund will be a one-of-a-kind event.
"If we don't get money from Con Ed specifically, it's not good," Cameron said. "There's not a pot of money at Metro-North that's available for fares." Historically, the MTA has resisted refunds for derailments, other power outages and weather-related service interruptions.
State Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, ranking member of the legislative Commerce Committee, submitted a bill last year that would have allowed commuters an extension of their weekly and monthly passes to coincide with the length of service disruptions. The bill failed, but she plans to resubmit it next year.
"If you pay for something and don't get it, you shouldn't have to pay for it," Lavielle said in a phone interview.