NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — If you arrive late to work in New York City all you have to mutter is, "Train." People know. Mass transit delays are a daily part of life in Gotham. But if you float that excuse often enough, your boss might get a little suspicious. No problem, just get your tardy slip from the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Since 2010, the MTA has offered an online service called the Subway Delay Verification . Fill in some info about yourself, your train, and how you were both late, and the MTA will email you a confirmation of a train delay, all nice and official, to hand to your boss.

Matthew Mitchell is president of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers in Philadelphia and says the service is not unique to the Big Apple.

"It's not widely known, but the passenger service desks at the SEPTA train stations in Center City Philadelphia have long offered to fill out a standard form for customers when their train is late," Mitchell says. "That said, those forms are starting to become obsolete since most commuter rail systems now have some kind of real-time online monitoring system, like SEPTA's TrainView, Travel Time in New York, and Rail Time in Washington. Snap a screenshot, and you've got proof your train was late this morning."

Advanced technology can even notify you of delays -- even if it can't make the trains run on time.

"Many systems also put out alerts by e-mail and social media when delays are expected, for example," Mitchell says. "An additional advantage of these systems is that you know when your train is on time or not before you even get to the station."


r even bother getting out of bed, right?

Being late and blaming it on the train is not just an NYC thing. It's a D.C. thing, too.

"Here in D.C., it's a valid excuse for just about everyone being 10 to 20 minutes late for everything," posted "Gwendolyn" on "With METRO going down with a dollar hooker, and traffic which can vary by 45 minutes of driving time, we just sort of expect everyone to be late."

Another poster, code-named "Gulper Eel," posted: "I'll have to mention that to a Metro North commuter friend of mine whose train was delayed a couple days ago because it ran out of diesel fuel and they had to go get another train."

So, some excuses are valid. But we wondered. Can the Subway Delay Verification system, and others like it, be gamed? Can you use the system to cover-up tardiness for something other than a late train (wink-wink)?

"We don't track what people do with our delay verifications," Kevin Ortiz with New York's MTA told MainStreet. "If a customer asks for a verification for a particular delay during a given time and it did indeed occur, we provide that verification."