News of how the CTA will spend its money took second fiddle to news about how it will collect its money at Tuesday’s board meeting.
The CTA board approved an agreement to implement a new fare-collection systems featuring the use of contactless cards riders can tap against rail turnstiles and bus fareboxes. "CTA patrons will simply “tap” their contactless credit, debit and bank cards or CTA-branded prepaid cards on a card reader to board trains and buses," according to a press release. The new technology is expected to be launched in early 2014.
The CTA awarded a $454 million contract to Cubic Transportation Systems, the company that provides the current fare cards and smart cards. Cubic will provide all of the fare-collection equipment, maintenance and support, and CTA will pay the cost of the contract via a base fee and a per-tap transaction fee from revenue on a monthly basis.
The CTA said the new fare-collection system is expected to yield savings of more than $50 million over the life of the contract, and will resolve the need to upgrade and maintain existing fare-collection equipment that is nearing the end of its useful life.
Rail riders will be required to use the new technology via their credit or cards. Those without credit cards or debit cards will be able to purchase prepaid contactless cards at more than 1,000 new locations. Cash fares still will be accepted on buses.
See the CTA's explanation.
2012 budget OK'ed with no fare hikes, service cuts
The CTA board Tuesday also approved a $1.24 billion that features not service cuts or fare hikes -- but relies on concessions from CTA unions to fill a $160 million hole. The union contracts expire Dec. 31.
Time will tell whether the CTA can wrest work rules changes to fill that gap. The union has already made it clear they are not budging, and in fact say the examples that CTA President Forrest Claypool gives of "antiquated" work rules are simply not true.
Should be interesting!