Monday, January 09, 2012

MBTA rejects direct control of rail operations

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Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will continue contracting out its regional rail passenger services, rejecting the option to operate trains itself. MBTA instead may opt for longer-term contracts with any operator involved. 

MBTA had considered direct operation as a successive option to its current situation, where trains are operated by Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail under a contract with the MBTA that expires in June 2013. MBCR has run the regional rail system since 2003. MBTA does operate “T” heavy rail, light rail, and bus services.

Remaining options reportedly include a new short-term contract with a private operator in the range of 5-to-10 years; or a longer-term contract of 10-to-30 years. 

The potential risks of direct operation, identified recently by consulting firm KPMG and also by MBTA legal counsel, include higher wages for unionized regional rail employees, and the potential costs of creating a separate public rail entity.

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