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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) last week finalized a $699.19 million contract with a Cubic-John Laing consortium for the design, implementation, operation and maintenance of a new automated fare collection system. Known as AFC 2.0, the system will enable riders to use smartphones or contactless credit cards to pay fares. The technology also will help speed up boarding times and reduce lines for Green Line trains, MBTA officials said in a press release. The new system will be available on all transit modes to allow for easy transfers. The system's initial elements will be implemented in late 2019, with full implementation by mid-2020. By 2021, the MBTA will retire its existing fare system.In fiscal-year 2017, Siemens boosted its U.S. research-and-development investment by $175 million to $1.3 billion, marking a 16 percent increase over the prior year. The company has placed a "strong focus on digital innovation" with its investments, Siemens officials said in a press release. For instance, in Chicago, the company is investing $13 million annually in a new digital R&D hub focused on cloud and Internet of Things applications to support the building management and automation market. Globally, Siemens aims to spend $6.9 billion on R&D in FY2018, up from $6.3 billion in FY2017.Willamette Valley Co. has announced changes to its leadership. John Murray has been named president, while Bob Halligan was appointed chief operating officer. John Harrison, who formerly served as president and chief executive officer, will continue to serve as CEO and a board member. In addition, Willamette Valley named Rob Loomis business manager of the performance products and railroad divisions. Spectrum Inc. President and CEO Danielle Ross is stepping down on March 30. During her more than three years at the company, she has managed through leadership changes, stabilized business and restored growth, and developed and led a dedicated team of employees, Spectrum officials said in a press release. Ross is leaving the company "to achieve other goals in her professional career," according to the release. In 2017, Progressive Railroading recognized Ross as a Rising Star in the rail industry.Brookville Equipment Corp. this week delivered the first of five Liberty model streetcars to Milwaukee. The city is Brookville's fourth to take delivery of its modern streetcar platform, according to a company press release. The Liberty streetcars are being delivered to Milwaukee under a November 2015 contract for the design and build of four vehicles with options of an onboard energy storage system (OESS). The city later exercised an option for an additional vehicle and the OESS options.