MBTA Automated Fare Collection System Reaches Financial Close

PFAL congratulates our clients Cubic Transportation Systems and John Laing for reaching financial close on the $275 million new Automated Fare Collection System for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (“MBTA”). PFAL acted as financial advisor to the consortium.

The MBTA has procured the Project through a Public-Private-Partnership model. Cubic | John Laing is responsible for the design, implementation, financing, operation and maintenance (“DBFOM”) of a new Automated Fare Collection System (“AFC 2.0”) that will simplify fare collection and improve the delivery of transit services.

MBTA customers will begin to experience the first elements of the AFC 2.0 in late in 2019. During a gradual transition period, the existing CharlieCard will continue to be accepted alongside the new payment options to allow customers time to make the switch. Full implementation will occur by mid-2020, followed by a retirement of the existing system in 2021.

The Project will provide for an integrated, modern, reliable and convenient fare payment and collection system that will MBTA’s customers to pay fares by tapping contactless bank cards, mobile phones and fare cards across the entire transportation network, which includes subways, light rail, buses, ferries, and commuter rail, throughout the Boston area.

Benefits of the new system include:

  • Faster buses and Green Line trains: The new system will allow all-door boarding on the Green Line and on buses. With shorter lines and reduced boarding times, buses and Green Line trains will have reduced “dwell times.”
  • Tap everywhere: The new system will be available on all modes starting from the initial rollout. The ability to tap and board the same way on all buses, trains, commuter rail and ferries means customers can seamlessly transfer between modes.
  • New CharlieCard: The new system includes a contactless fare card, similar to the existing CharlieCard with added security and account management benefits. New fare cards will be available at select retail locations and fare vending machines located in all subway stations and at some bus stops.
  • Use of smartphone or contactless credit card: Customers can skip the step of reloading value by tapping with contactless credit cards or smartphones at fare gates and readers. 
  • Pay before boarding more easily: Account value can be reloaded at fare vending machines and retailers throughout the MBTA service area, as well as through the call center and a new website.
  • Pay with cash: Cash payments will continue to be accepted at all vending machines and local retailers, which will be in twice as many locations as they are today. Even if customers tap with a smartphone, they will be able to reload using cash.
  • Account management: Customers can check their balances, access travel history, reload or replace a lost card online, or by phone through the MBTA’s call center.
  • Accessibility improvements: The entire system will be designed for a broad range of accessibility needs, by user experience specialists. All fare gates will be wider and the website and mobile app will be compliant with digital accessibility guidelines.
  • Privacy protection: The privacy requirements embedded in the new system are above and beyond the industry standard to ensure that each customer’s personally identifiable information (PII) and travel history is protected.

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