Monday, March 17, 2008

March VTA Committees update: New fare boxes

This Thursday, VTA's Admin and Finance Committee will vote on a consulting contract to develop proposals on the replacement or upgrade of existing bus fareboxes. The current fareboxes were purchased in 1988 and were obsolete. VTA needs new or upgraded fareboxes that can support some form of electronic payments as well as improved data collection from passengers.

AC Transit, a neighboring agency, has more advanced fareboxes that can issue and validate customized transfers and passes. As a result, AC Transit offers 31-day passes rather than monthly passes, which are more convenient to those who need to travel on buses mid-month to mid-month.

In the meantime, SamTrans is also looking into replacing its fareboxes. Unlike VTA and AC Transit, SamTrans does not offer transfers nor day passes. SamTrans wants new fareboxes so it can implement day passes without the administrative overhead typically required.

The Admin and Finance Committee will also consider refinancing many of VTA's bonds without bond insurance. Previously, VTA has issued insured bonds to lock in lower interest rates. However, the subprime mortgage crisis caused many bond insurers to be downgraded, resulting a huge jump in interest rates. Two of three VTA's bond insurers were recently downgraded and VTA is paying much higher interest rates on bonds insured by the downgraded firms. The State of California has decided earlier this month to stop using bond insurance.

The Congestion Management Committee will receive a report of the South County Circulation Study.

The Transit Planning and Operations Committee will decide whether to take legal actions to obtain access rights needed to relocate the existing Union Pacific track off the right of way now owned by VTA in Milpitas.

No comments: