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Guest donaltopablo

New MARTA fare collection system delayed

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One of MARTAs few capital improvements is delayed due to a lawsuit from a company that felt the bidding process was unfair. I'm not sure about the bidding process, but I know the new fare system if done properly could be a huge benefit to the struggling MARTA system. I've seen there broken far boxes, plus the new system is suppose to allow them to do distance based charges which may helping MARTAs bottom line.

MARTA fare system fixes delayed

By HENRY UNGER

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Fulton County judge Thursday temporarily blocked MARTA from entering into a $104 million contract to replace its decaying fare collection system.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Melvin Westmoreland issued a 30-day preliminary injunction barring MARTA from awarding the contract to Cubic Transportation Systems.

MARTA's board of directors had been expected to approve the deal to replace its obsolete and frequently broken turnstiles, token machines and fare boxes at a meeting Monday.

Westmoreland ruled that the losing bidder in a two-company contest, Thales e-Transactions, would be damaged more seriously than MARTA and the riding public if the contract were awarded Monday.

"What's another month or two?" Westmoreland asked.

The judge ruled that the loss to MARTA by continuing to use a decaying system for a longer time would be less than the potential cost to Thales if it could prove it unfairly and illegally lost the chance to win a lucrative contract.

MARTA had hoped to have the new fare collection system in place by 2005, but the ruling could be the beginning of a more lengthy delay.

The preliminary injunction could be extended while Thales gathers information to try to prove that MARTA did not follow its own procedures when evaluating the competing proposals.

After Thales gets more information on the bidding process from MARTA, it will seek a permanent injunction. If it is successful, MARTA would have to go through the procurement process all over again, which could add another year to the process.

During the hearing, Thales attorney Michael Bowers contended that MARTA would be overpaying for bus fare boxes by $10 million if it went ahead with the Cubic deal.

But MARTA denied that. And it said it is losing about $10 million annually, primarily because of fare cheating and the added maintenance costs of keeping a dilapidated fare system operating.

"The situation is getting worse on a daily basis," MARTA attorney John Lowery told the judge. "The process needs to move forward."

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