$41,000 goes uncollected at T parking garage

$41,000 goes uncollected at T parking garage

Vendor reimburses agency; officials blame computer setting

THE MBTA SAID an incorrect computer setting at its Haymarket parking garage resulted in nearly $41,000 in credit card transactions going uncollected over 14 days in late May and early June.

T officials say their parking lot operator, Republic Parking System of Chattanooga, Tennessee, ate the $40,900 loss and reimbursed the transit authority for the lost funds.  The T disclosed the snafu and the recovery of the funds on Tuesday after inquiries from CommonWealth.

Republic took oversight of parking operations at the T in April. The authority put the business out to bid last year after parking receipts were allegedly stolen by employees of the previous operator, LAZ Parking Ltd. The MBTA sued LAZ on May 4, with officials estimating the authority is owed millions of dollars. The two parties are currently engaged in settlement talks.

T officials said the situation with Republic is very different from the problems with LAZ. The officials said no money was stolen at the Haymarket garage.

What happened, T officials say, is a point-of-sale unit at the Haymarket garage was inadvertently placed in demo mode, which is typically used for training purposes. The demo setting made it appear that payments by people using credit cards to pay their parking fees during the last seven days in May and the first seven days in June were being processed normally. In fact, the transactions were never completed and customers were never charged.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

T officials say the problem was corrected as soon as it was discovered and they plan to implement new procedures to avoid such situations in the future.

The MBTA has a five-year contract with Republic that pays the firm $9.8 million a year. In a presentation to the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board in February, MBTA officials highlighted Republic’s technological sophistication. The presentation also said the contract with Republic included “strict penalties for revenue discrepancies.” Officials said no penalties were assessed in connection with the Haymarket situation because it was an error discovered during the reconciliation process and not a revenue discrepancy.

  • CharlieBakersFish

    I see… so because it is a Baker picked agency that took over the parking it’s all good? Wow, this guy ruins the state’s credit rating, hasn’t improved MBTA service (North Station Melts down yesterday) and outsources prison guards (Oh yeah safety sake!), and this idiot gets applauded by it!

  • Aeroguy

    The first good news here is
    the amount.
    Instead of a $41 million mistake – and out of a $2 billion budget,
    that’s not so hard – it’s only $41 thousand mistake.
    The second is that the vendor agreed to ‘eat’ the charge.
    This is a net positive for Mass.

    • Beeker

      They are required to eat the charge as part of the agreement.