MBTA awards multi-billion dollar commuter rail contract to new transportation company

boston mbta massdot meeting commuter rail collapse
A person collapsed at a MassDOT meeting during which dozens of people spoke over a proposed new contract for the operator of the Commuter Rail.
Credit: Morgan Rousseau, Metro

After three hours of public discussion and one instance of fainting, the MassDOT Board of Directors on Wednesday unanimously voted to hand over the reigns of the commuter rail to a new company, Keolis Commuter Services LLC, which was awarded an 8-year base contract of $2.686 billion to run the operation.

The decision came after 30 people, all with vested interest in the procurement of a rail contract, delivered remarks arguing for and against the operational change.

Employees of the current rail operator, the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Company, delivered testimony arguing that the board should take 30 days to reconsider a contract with Keolis.

Both the MBCR and Keolis were evaluated on 11 factors, including safety, security and emergency response, mechanical services, customer services, management, information technology and civil rights programs.

Keolis racked up an overall score of “good,” compared to the MBCR, which ended up with an “acceptable” ranking.

According to MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, when the contract goes into effect in July, passengers can expect an improvement in commuter rail customer experience, including cleanliness, comfort, and on-time performance.

The agency will also take away financial incentives, and instead, will penalize the operator for not adhering to strict schedules and other expectations.

“The new contract sets a ‘no excuses’ expectation that the operator will run the trains on time – including more stringent performance criteria and no automatic relief. In a major change – the new commuter rail contract does not include any incentive payments and, if performance standards are not met, imposes financial disincentives (i.e., performance failure payments) on the operator,” Scott said in a statement.

“I want to stress that our goal is performance, not penalties.”

Scott spoke about the improvements passengers can expect with the new contract.

“The new contract sets a ‘no excuses’ expectation that the operator will run the trains on time, including more stringent performance criteria…” she said,

“[The contract] places additional emphasis on vehicle [and] station cleanliness and passenger comfort. For the first time under the new contract, 50 percent of the amount of financial disincentives that the operator will be tied to [include] elements of customer satisfaction, such as cleanliness, heating and air conditioning, maintaining staffing levels and customer communications.”

Earlier in the meeting, after two straight hours of public comment, a man who was standing in the back of the crowded board meeting collapsed. He later regained consciousness, and according to the board chairman, was expected to be treated at a local hospital.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…