BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – An audit of the MBTA's automated fare collection system highlighted several inadequacies in the protection of fare money, including revenue variances of more than $100 million between the system's records and the actual money collected, missing keys to fare boxes, and incomplete tracking of fare box cash.
The audit which was announced on Thursday did not find any evidence of lost money or theft; however, without a properly functioning fare collections system, there is no real way for the MBTA to know that theft, loss or misuse is not occurring.
"The MBTA cannot properly safeguard revenue it may not know it has," State Auditor Suzanne Bump stated in a release.
Since its inception in 2005, the automated fare collection system has not been able to properly record the intake of cash or communicated electronically with the MBTA central accounting system. Accordingly, fare box collections have been manually counted and cannot be reconciled with any of the system's revenue reports.
From July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2011, actual fare box cash receipts deposited were $123.8 million whereas the AFC system recorded over $225.5 million in fare box cash receipts. This variance of more than $101.7 million demonstrates significant reliability problems in the MBTA's collection and control of cash revenue.
The audit also found that the MBTA reduced the amount of testing required to ensure that all machines were fully functional. It also found that the MBTA had inadequate control over keys to fare box cash. At the time of the audit, 12 keys that provide access to fare box cash were missing and 1,313 keys that were unnumbered and cannot be tracked.
The audit also found that cash boxes were not properly tracked during removal, deposit, and reinsertion. As a result, MBTA management is not provided with reliable tracking information regarding the removal and deposit of fare box cash.
"Especially at a time when the MBTA is facing a major fiscal crisis and increasing fares, it needs to do all it can to assure its riders and taxpayers that it is protecting and maximizing public funds and holding its contractors accountable," Bump said.
Bump has called on the MBTA and its vendor to immediately implement corrective actions to address software and hardware deficiencies and has recommended that all revenue locking systems be replaced.
The audit is available online at www.mass.gov/auditor.
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