T: Fare collection to be public-private partnership

T: Fare collection to be public-private partnership

Vendor will start to get paid once system up and running

THE MBTA IS PLANNING to build a new automated fare collection system using what officials are calling a public-private partnership.

The new fare collection system, dubbed AFC 2.0, is expected to replace the existing CharlieCard and CharlieTicket and allow cashless-only payment using smart phones, bank cards, and possibly a new MBTA fare card. With fare readers at all doors on buses and Green Line trains, the system is expected to speed up boarding and improve travel times by as much as 10 percent.

The MBTA plans to select a team capable of designing, installing, financing, and operating the system next year. David Block-Schachter, the chief technology officer at the T, said on Monday that the team hired to build the system will start to receive its compensation once the system is up and running in 2020.

“What we’re essentially saying is that you [the vendor] are going to do all the work and your money is going to be on the hook until the system is actually commissioned,” he said.

Block-Schachter said the vendor will be paid for its work over the operating life of the system. “We pay them back through the entire operating period,” he said. “We don’t care that it’s up and running. We care that it works for the next 20 years.”

Asked if the T will incur a steep premium for such a payment approach, Block-Schachter said the premium shouldn’t be any greater than for any project being done on a time-sensitive basis.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the automated fare collection arrangement is a public-private partnership “because we are using the procurement process both as a way to buy it and also as a way to pay for it.”

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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.

Block-Schachter told the Fiscal and Management Control Board that the project is on track, but that the MBTA needs to ramp up its hiring of employees to oversee the project. He said the T plans to hire a project manager, which is the same approach the agency used in hiring John Dalton to oversee the Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford. A deputy program manager, two other executives, consultants, and at least 27 other employees will be hired to oversee the project, according to a presentation delivered to the control board.

Block-Schachter said a recruiting firm is currently looking for the program manager and hopes to have that person on board in six to eight weeks.

  • Fred Grosso

    I need a smart phone to ride the subway!