134 more Red Line cars approved, but behind closed doors

In response to an increasingly urgent need to improve service along the Red Line, the MBTA’s fiscal control board approved a long overdue $277M extension to the Red Line that would add 134 more cars by 2023. This addition would allegedly allow cars to run every three minutes during peak hours. The approval comes after a growing number of controversial MBTA failures and privatization schemes under the Baker administration and protracted deliberations over whether to repair decades-old trains or to replace and standardize a new fleet altogether. The Chinese company awarded with the contract to replace the rest of the fleet was already in the process of rebuilding cars on the Red and Orange Lines. A complete replacement of the fleet would allegedly save over $300,000 when compared to repairing the older cars.

The potential investment was welcomed by elected officials, however the process by which the deal came about circumvented normal procedure for approving contracts of this magnitude. Rather than issuing a bidding process as required by federal law, MBTA officials justified closed-session negotiations as necessary to ensure that just one company constructed the new, standardized cars for the entire fleet. While such investments in the red line fleet are long overdue, transparent and open processes must be used to ensure the best deal for taxpayers. The outcome might be positive, but the lack of transparency around the new red line train contract raises several red flags.

Read more in the Boston Globe.

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