One Way to Goldens Bridge Costs $23 Quadrillion

We’ve all been feeling the sting of the new Metro-North fare hikes, but perhaps none a much as teenager Lydia Alcock, who was recently charged over $23,000,000,000,000,000–yup, more zeros than a Star Trek convention at the Holiday Inn in Lodi–for a ticket from Grand Central to Goldens Bridge in northern Westchester.

Adding insult to very costly injury, Alcock also was hit with a $20 fine for having a negative balance on her account due to the $23 quadrillion charge.

Times-man Peter Applebome ventures to North Salem to speak with the Johns Hopkins sophomore, who was dinged the $23 quad on her credit card for the train ticket.

It turns out this was not for a splurge on iPods, iTunes, iPhones, Juicy Couture [Editor’s Note: that Applebome is really down with current teen culture!] or the gross world product, but for a single train ride (off-peak!) on Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central to Goldens Bridge. The usual cost is $10.

Ms. Alcock looked. She looked again. She gasped. She laughed. She shouted to her father: “Dad, you need to come here. Right now.” And then after realizing, to her chagrin, that she owed the staggering sum, not that she was the recipient of a tidy little windfall, she typed into Google: “How to say really big numbers,” and cut and pasted $23,148,855,308,184,500. It read: “twenty-three quadrillion, one hundred forty-eight trillion, eight hundred fifty-five billion, three hundred eight million, one hundred eighty-four thousand, five hundred dollars.”

Alcock was one of 12,000-plus Visa customers hit with the erroneous charge. She won’t have to pay, but MTA execs privately stated that raising fees in such a way would take a big step toward pulling the transit authority out of debt.

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