October 21, 2009

MTA to start taking credit cards after delays, cost overruns

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By Andy Rosen
andy@marylandreporter.com

UPDATED: 2:11 p.m. Wednesday, 10/21

The Maryland Transit Administration will begin converting its Baltimore Metro Subway payment kiosks to accept credit cards in early November.

Spokeswoman Cheryl Stewart said the first kiosks will begin accepting credit cards Nov. 9. They will start on the Metro, she said, and the MTA expects to have all of the machines on that line and on the Light Rail set up for credit during the first quarter of 2010.

That move will coincide with the agency’s rollout of the “Charm Card,” a stored value card that would be compatible with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s system as well as locally-run systems in the D.C. suburbs. The MTA is testing that card now and it is expected to be in use next year.

The cost of making the payment machines compatible is likely to be higher than expected by about $1.5 million, according to a document filed with the Board of Public Works. The additional payment, to Cubic Transportation Systems of San Diego, comes on top of a $39.6 million contract signed in 2001.

The state and the company had been at odds about the reasons for the delays and related costs associated with the the company’s work. Cubic wanted $2 million more than this settlement, which puts the dispute to rest. The BPW approved the deal Wednesday.