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MBTA Launches New Fare Transformation Program

Posted on December 9, 2019

Introduces a plan for near-term, customer-focused improvements; phased-in approach for new system


The MBTA has announced the launch of its new Fare Transformation Program with plans for customer-focused upgrades to the existing fare collection system while providing a new path toward a future system that reflects critical feedback from riders, advocates, and policy makers. Fare Transformation will combine the existing fare collection operation with the project formerly referred to as "AFC 2.0." Under the new program, the MBTA will implement meaningful improvements to the existing system while pursuing a phased approach for a new system that better represents the needs of MBTA customers. In total, the near-term improvements and transition to a new system will occur over a 5-year window. 

“Critical to this project’s success is outreach, and the level of engagement we’ve received indicates just how important the future of MBTA fare collection is to our customers,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Thanks to the feedback, we are now on a course to provide improvements to our existing system, and ultimately, deliver a new project that is even more focused on the needs of our customers.” 

“With the launch of the new system, we are showing that we listened, we learned, and we reset,” said Ron Renaud, Chief Transformation Officer. “By shifting to a phased approach, we’ll be able to build upon the progress we’ve made by continuing the process of engaging with our key stakeholder groups.” 

The phased approach to Fare Transformation will result in improvements that include:

  • The ability to pay for a trip on all Zone 1A stations on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line with CharlieCard
  • Deploying fare vending machines that dispense CharlieCards
  • All-door boarding on MBTA buses and surface stops along the Green Line
  • Integrating the entire Commuter Rail network into the CharlieCard system

In addition to these improvements, the program reset will result in the MBTA assuming responsibility for the placement of fare vending machines at both on-street and at retail locations once the rollout of the new system begins.  

Under the previous plan, the T’s contractor would site vending machines according to a formula. By taking control of this project element, the MBTA, in collaboration with stakeholders, will establish a more robust and thoughtful network of vending machines centered on the needs of T customers. In conjunction with that process, the MBTA has committed to a significant increase in the total number of machines (versus both the existing conditions and the original project plan) to ensure adequate access.  

To fund these planned improvements, the Fiscal and Management Control Board approved 2 new agreements to advance Fare Transformation to the next stage: 

  • A contract with Scheidt & Bachmann for $49 million for improvements to the legacy system. This includes new fare vending machines, fare gate computers with upgraded software and hardware, enhancements to the CharlieTicket, additional retail sales terminals, and new handheld readers. The contract also establishes a process for developing interoperability between Scheidt & Bachmann and Cubic devices. 
  • An agreement with the Systems Integrator/Cubic for $30 million to serve as a bridge to advance the project while the final contract reset is negotiated. The final contract incorporating the reset changes to the original Systems Integrator/Cubic contract will be will be presented to the Board in the future. This full contract reset will include many of the elements of the original contract with the addition of new project milestones with associated payments, a longer transition timeline, more schedule confidence, improvements to the customer experience surrounding tap in/out for the Commuter Rail, tools to address the needs of low-income customers and infrequent riders, integrations for fare gates at Commuter Rail terminals, and improved program management.

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