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New T Fare Collection System To Cost $200 Million More

MBTA Green Line train at Boylston Station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
MBTA Green Line train at Boylston Station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The MBTA's board signed off Monday on a contract amendment that will add $212 million in project costs to the now-reset rollout of an automated fare collection system, finalizing plans to implement the technology over a longer period of time first discussed last year.

Fiscal and Management Control Board members voted 4-0 to approve the amendment, which bumps the total fare transformation price tag from the $723 million approved under the initial contract to $935 million.

Monday's vote formalized plans to "reset" deployment of a fare collection overhaul. In December, T officials unveiled their intention to phase in the changes over the next four years rather than two, and they also said at the time that the update would push the total project cost above $900 million.

The public-private partnership with Cubic has a more realistic schedule under the amendment and will provide an easier transition for riders, officials said Monday.

Key stages of the fare transformation include distribution of Charlie Cards at all subway vending machines in 2021, tapping a contactless credit card or smartphone payment system to board select subway and bus routes in 2022, and all-door boarding on buses and Green Line trains in 2023. The project is set to be complete in 2024.

Some transportation advocates had unsuccessfully called for the board to delay its vote. Chris Dempsey, executive director of the Transportation for Massachusetts coalition, wrote on Twitter that the final cost is now about 30 percent higher than the original contract.

"This project needs more oversight," he said. "The FMCB should ask for an independent review before they approve this new contract."

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