The MBTA's Fiscal and Management Control Board voted to approve amendments to its delayed "fare transformation" project at its meeting this afternoon, in spite of criticism from a coalition of transit advocates that had urged the board to postpone decisions until riders could have a full understanding of the changes.
In a December board meeting, MBTA staff presented a "reset" plan for the project, which would have retained the same vendor with a pushed-back timeline. In the months since then, the T had offered little additional information on its plans for the project.
Advocates asked the board to have "an equitable and transparent" process to evaluate the changes before the board takes action.
A joint letter to the board from members of the Allston Brighton Health Collaborative, Alternatives for Community and Environment, Community Labor United, Conservation Law Foundation, LivableStreets, MASSPIRG, TransitMatters, and Transportation for Massachusetts asserted that "taxpayers, farepayers, and the communities that contribute to the MBTA’s budget have not been sufficiently informed about the $700 million fare transformation contract."
The original 2018 contract with Cubic, an international fare collection vendor, had a 10-year price tag of $723 million. The revised contract approved on Monday includes $597.5 million in up-front costs plus a ten-year operating deal worth $337.9 million, for a total cost of $935 million.
"We are buying some additional flexibility in how we can potentially connect the Cubic system to keeping track of fare citations, such that we have more flexibility to implement things that come out of a public process," said Paget-Seekins.