Miami-Dade County Transit's $72.9 million system to curb fare evasion
By Lou Ortiz
Miami-Dade County Transit is embarking on a new fare collection system that will cost $72.9 million.
The modernized system is expected to increase transit revenue 7% by reducing fare evasion, lower operating costs and use Smart card technology.
The agency currently collects more than $90 million a year in fares and fees, according to the county budget.
The agency will pay for the system, in part, by using the half-cent transportation tax funds that voters approved in 2002, authorized under miscellaneous capital improvement projects in the People's Transportation Plan.
The county commission's Transit Committee on April 16 approved awarding the fare system contract to Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., which is headquartered in San Diego.
The new system includes bus electronic fareboxes, ticket vending machines, smart card readers, automatic passenger counters and a central computer system.
The agency serves 354,000 daily passengers, including 67,000 riders on the Metrorail system, according to county documents.
If the full 13-member commission OKs the deal, the system would be in place on all transit buses by year's end and in the Metrorail system in the first quarter of 2009.
Transit Director Harpal Kapoor told committee members that the current fare collection system is obsolete and difficult to maintain, and new spare parts area hard to come by.
"Once we have state-of-the-art collection," he said. "We can program [fare] increases quickly."
The smart cards, the size of credit cards, with imbedded computer chips, would make boarding buses quicker and provide the agency with more detailed rider information.
The new system is capable of regionalizing the smart cards to include transit riders from TriRail, Broward County and Palm Tran in Palm Beach County.
The system has a 15-year life span, according to transit officials.