BUFFALO, N.Y. — The company chosen to upgrade the fare payment systems for public transit in the New York City area says it will run a call center in the Buffalo area, creating dozens and possibly hundreds of jobs.
Cubic Transportation Systems won the bid to replace the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's MetroCard with electronic card readers that will accept credit cards, cell phones and even smart watches, instead of the old swiping system.
That project, worth nearly $600 million over more than two decades, will include the call center in Buffalo, which will create up to 200 new positions.
Those workers would answer questions, including those regarding payments and billing, from the MTA's nearly 9 million daily customers.
"I'm always excited when I hear about new jobs coming to Buffalo, because I do know that we have enough of a qualified workforce to fill jobs," said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat who represents the 141st District.
State Senator Chris Jacobs, a Republican from the 60th District, said it makes sense to put these call center jobs in Buffalo, because taxes from all over New York State help support the MTA.
"When we make an investment, state dollars and tax dollars that come from throughout the state... that there's some benefit here," Jacobs said.
Invest Buffalo Niagara, a non-profit that works to bring in new jobs and expand the local economy, has been working with Cubic on this project for about two years.
"They knew that being able to bring the contract not just to upgrade New York City, but share the work and share that prosperity of that contract to Upstate New York, they knew that they would benefit all of the state," said Lorrie Abounader, business development manager with Invest Buffalo Niagara.
Peoples-Stokes and Jacobs both said Buffalo can continue to grow the local economy by adding back-office jobs to support New York City operations.
"I think it's really a growth opportunity," Jacobs said.
"To be adding more, is good news," added Peoples-Stokes.
A Cubic spokesperson said it's too early to know exactly where the call center will go and when it will open. However, it will be up and running in time to support the launch of the MTA's new fare payment system, and that's scheduled for 18 months from now.