Advocacy groups urge T not to extend rail deal

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NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

A band of advocacy groups is asking the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail and the MBTA not to renew contracts with an international transit stakeholder because of the stakeholder’s alleged involvement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

According to speakers at Wednesday’s MassDOT/MBTA board meeting, Veolia Transport, the largest private sector operator of transit in North America and Europe, is involved in illegal and immoral activities.

A letter sent to MassDOT officials claims Veolia “engaged in criminal activity and human rights violations,” with operations in the West Bank in Palestine, territory under Israeli military occupation and colonial settlement.

The groups accuse Boston’s MBCR of supporting these activities.

Advocates asked Hub officials to end contracts with Veolia in 2012, when the current deal expires.
A joint letter from the groups claims Veolia is running services that allow “segregated, Jewish-only bus lines” and “facilitating … Israel’s illegal settlement activity.”

Veolia is the majority partner of the MBCR, under contract to the MBTA. 

MBCR spokesman Scott Farmelant said the commuter rail operator “absolutely” plans on bidding in the public process for a contract renewal in 2012, despite claims.

According to the T, public bidding will go on accordingly, whether MBCR bids or not.

“The T is in the business of delivering safe transit services to … Greater Boston,” said a spokesman. “It doesn’t take positions on foreign political matters.”

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear.


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