MBTA Sues Over T-Pass Sales

Charges Out-of-Town News Owner Failed to Pay for Passes

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) recently filed a civil suit against the owner of Harvard Square's Out-of-Town News for withholding $ 623,000 earned from MBTA pass sales.

MBTA officials charge that Sheldon Cohen failed to reimburse them for monthly passes he received for sale to the public, according to a story in yesterday's Boston Globe.

MBTA's claim states that the $306,000 check Cohen wrote to pay for the December passes bounced, and that Cohen also owes them $293,000 for January passes and $12,000 for commuter rail passes.

according to the suit, Cohen will file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. To retrieve the money owed, the MBTA has requested that the court place a cap on Cohen's personal spending.

Cohen could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Cohen's company used to sell the passes from his Out-of Town Ticket Agency on the mezzanine level of the Harvard Square T stop.

This month the MBTA has refused to issue passes to Cohen, and has instead started selling the passes from booths on the bottom floor of the subway station.

Although T officials are selling the passes at Out-of Town's old rate, some commuters are unhappy about the loss of transportation funds.

"They've been talking about cutting back service to my area and I hate to see a system I rely on being taxed even further," said Virginia L Mackay-Smith 78 assistant dean of Harvard College.

Officials at the MBTA wouldn't comment on the suit. "When parties are in litigation sometimes they don't like to talk about it," an MBTA public relations officer said.

Several Out-of-Town News employees said they did not know about the suit.