Mechanical problems with new electronic bus fare machines prompted directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District to vote Thursday to stop making payments to the manufacturer until terms of the $12.1-million contract are met.
"I don't want to give them another dime until all these things are working," said board member Charles Storing, who introduced the motion that was approved unanimously.
Although RTD General Manager Alan Pegg said San Diego-based Cubic Western Data has shown it is willing to help resolve the problems with the 1,712 fare boxes already installed, Storing pointed out that the district has waited "almost five years" for the company to fix the equipment. He said it was time to play "hardball."
John Richeson, RTD's equipment and facilities chief, told the board at the meeting in Los Angeles that the district has paid about 80% of the contract--more than $2 million above original estimates.
RTD officials said an average of 250 boxes are jamming daily, forcing drivers to let dollars pile up or to allow patrons to ride free.
Fearing a possible lawsuit, RTD general counsel Suzanne Gifford persuaded the board to specify that the payment will be withheld only if RTD attorneys determine the action is "justified" under the contract.