OP-ED: MBTA outsourcing is not paying off

Tab is increasing for Silver Line bus repairs sent to Maine

“IT’S A simple equation. Whenever we privatize or outsource public services, we as a state and as taxpayers lose control. Case after case has shown that when we hand over control of core services like vehicle repair, it does not serve the interests of the public in the long-term.

Yet, here in Massachusetts, full-blown privatization continues to be lifted up by a small but influential cadre of libertarian leaning think tanks and government officials as the solution to the MBTA’s financial woes, as seen in the recent private report commissioned to explore outsourcing opportunities – a report that came with its own hefty cost of $1 million taxpayer dollars to Florida-based consulting firm TransPro and the controversial outsourcing advocates at McKinsey & Company.

This also comes on the heels of efforts to renegotiate a contract with the Maine Military Authority to overhaul 32 Silver Line buses that will now cost the state an additional $2 million.

Many Greater Boston residents may not even be aware that repair of a fleet of Silver Line buses was outsourced to the Maine Military Authority (MMA) in late 2014, or that those repairs were suddenly halted last November by order of Maine’s erratic Gov. Paul LePage because of gross cost overruns, despite only 11 of the buses being completed. Now the fate of the remaining buses hinges on the Maine legislature approving an appropriation of $6 million to cover the debt already incurred by the project. Meanwhile, jobs that could have been done in the Bay State were instead sent out of state.

If it seems bizarre that the control of our public resources lies in the hands of another state, it should. This is yet another example of the underbidding and cost overruns that routinely occur when Massachusetts surrenders control of its public transit responsibilities and operations to outside companies or, in this case, to another state.”

Read the full op-ed at Commonwealth Magazine >>



by Craig Hughes, business representative of the International Association of Machinists Local 264

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