Reuters/Jeff Zelevansky

It’s like a doctor’s note for commuters.

Bemoaning the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is a New Yorker’s favorite pastime. It’s not unjustified: Recent reports from the public transit service itself show that the subway is regularly overcrowded and delayed, making city dwellers increasingly annoyed at riding the train.

Since 2010, the MTA has offered a program that tries to alleviate at least some of the anxiety and distress of the 5.6 million people who ride the subway each weekday. The agency allows riders to request online “delay verification” forms—essentially, late-to-work slips for people to prove to their bosses or teachers that they really were stuck on the subway, and not just slacking off at home. And more than 100,000 riders a year are making use of it.

According to DNAinfo, New Yorkers have made nearly 109,000 online requests for subway excuse slips so far in 2015. In 2014, they asked for 129,000, marking a fourfold jump from the 31,000 they requested in 2010 when the online program launched.

Late-to-work slips in 2014 were most frequently requested by riders on the 4, 5, 6, A, and 2 trains (which makes sense, given that many of these lines are among New York’s busiest and arrived late roughly 30 percent of the time in 2014). The delay-verification requests came in most heavily for days where power outages or weather-related events wiped out service at multiple stations across the city.

The MTA’s late-slip program has technically existed for decades, but the group’s decision to put it online in 2010 resulted in an overwhelming increase in request volume. No other major U.S. transit system offers a similar program—though many, including ones in Boston and Washington, D.C., do allow riders to ask for delay confirmations via traditional customer-service channels.

The London Underground gives refunds to passengers if delays “for reasons within our control” last for more than 15 minutes; and Tokyo’s subway system—which prides itself on the utmost punctuality—issues genuine messages of apology on ticket slips when trains are late.

Back in New York: Straphangers can use the MTA’s online form to make late-slip requests within 90 days of their delay. Still, they should know that the MTA’s confirmations may not be as specific as they might hope.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

More from Quartz:

People in Emerging Countries Will Soon Use as Much Medicine as Those in the Developed World

The Paris Attacks Changed the Most Crucial Relationship in the Russian Economy

Free Tuition Doesn’t Solve the Biggest Problem With College in America

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: bicyclists in Paris during a transit strike in December.
    Transportation

    Paris Mayor: It's Time for a '15-Minute City'

    In her re-election campaign, Mayor Anne Hidalgo says that every Paris resident should be able to meet their essential needs within a short walk or bike ride.

  2. photo: Firefighters survey a home burning along Highway 128 during the Kincade fire in Healdsburg, California, in October 2019.
    Maps

    Is There a Better Way to Measure Wildfire Risk?

    In fire-prone parts of California, insurance companies are using new AI-powered tools to better estimate the likelihood of a devastating wildfire disaster.

  3. photo: Cranes on the skyline in Oakland, California
    Life

    How to Make a Housing Crisis

    The new book Golden Gates details how California set itself up for its current affordability crunch—and how it can now help build a nationwide housing movement.

  4. photo: a wallet full of Yen bills.
    Life

    Japan’s Lost-and-Found System Is Insanely Good

    If you misplace your phone or wallet in Tokyo, chances are very good that you’ll get it back. Here’s why.

  5. photo: Utah Department of Transportation workers inspect a highway bridge under construction on Interstate 15 in American Fork, Utah.
    Transportation

    What 4 Years of Trump’s Transportation Budgets Add Up to

    In his 2021 budget request, President Trump sends mixed messages about federal funding for highways, bridges, and railways. Sound familiar?

×