HAVERHILL — The Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority has fixed a $40,000 problem with its bus fare collections.
An audit by the state Auditor’s Office covering July 1, 2006 through Dec. 31, 2007 showed that automated farebox readings in MVRTA buses did not match the actual amount of money collected, with more than $40,000 unaccounted for during the audit period.
MVRTA officials attributed the problem to old and unreliable fareboxes. At the time, the regional transit authority told the state’s watchdog agency the boxes had been repaired several times, but were near the end of their useful life of approximately six years.
Since then, the transit authority has replaced all fareboxes in its 50 bus fleet at a cost of $600,000, MVRTA director Joesph Costanza said. The authority partnered with nine other regional transit authorities to buy the new boxes, Costanza said.
“I applaud the Merrimack Valley RTA for acting quickly to address the findings in the prior audit by finding an immediate short-term solution while a longer term solution could be implemented,” State Auditor Suzanne Bump said in a press release yesterday.
Costanza said the last of old fareboxes were replaced in January.
Christopher Thompson, a spokesman for the Auditor’s Office, said the agency will check back with the transit authority in six months to make sure the problem has been permanently fixed and that farebox readings match up with actual money collected from riders.
Under new MVRTA procedures, the authority currently audits a different bus every day until all 50 have been checked, Costanza said. At that point, the process starts over, he said.
“In the old days we used a drop box and it was pretty basic,” Constanza said. “But now everything is automated with technology that’s always changing. The one we use now is a computer in a stainless steel box.”
Initial testing of the new fareboxes revealed an error rate of less than one percent, Costanza said.
Another state audit of MVRTA buses from July 17, 2009 through September 30, 2011 indicated the authority properly used federally American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, according to the auditor’s press release.
The state will be back to audit MVRTA’s finances in three years, Thompson said.