Boston Globe: Contracted services are a persistent problem for the T

On Wednesday The Boston Globe reported on how the MBTA is dealing with ongoing issues with private contractors as the agency embarks on new projects including a $2.3 billion extension of the Green Line and the replacement of its current fare system.

Some recent issues that MBTA officials have encountered when it comes to internal management of outside contractors include ending a contract with Global Contact Services after the contractor failed to properly manage the agency’s paratransit service, and criticism regarding how commuter rail contractor, Keolis, mishandled a recent investigation into into a train car that broke free earlier this year.

Following these incidents as well as other a variety of issues managing contractors, MBTA officials are acknowledging the need to improve their current system of working with outside vendors. “The necessity of doing a better job is clear, both from what’s been going on with the Ride and what’s been going on with commuter rail, said Transportation Secretary, Stephanie Pollack, going on to state that, “The T needs to be an organization that knows how to manage contracted services.” The MBTA Board’s Chairman, Joseph Aiello,  has also acknowledged that the agency needs to improve its management of contractors.

Speaking out on the repeated failures of the MBTA to work effectively with private contractors, Michael Vartabedian, the Business Manager of the MBTA bus mechanics union, stated, “It’s one failed example after failed example.” He went on to say, “They keep saying, ‘We’ll get it right the next time,'”concluding, “I don’t think they’re capable of managing a contract.”

As stories continue to emerge regarding the agency’s inability to successfully execute a contract with an outside vendor, many wonder if it is too little too late.

Meanwhile, the MBTA bus mechanics continue to fight attempts by the Baker administration to outsource bus maintenance at three agency garages. The Globe reports that the MBTA could make its next outsourcing decision early this year, on whether or not to hand over MBTA safety and maintenance services to a controversial vendor with a poor track record — First Transit.

Read the full story here.



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