MBTA Will Not Extend Contract of Commuter Rail Operator Keolis - NBC Boston

MBTA Will Not Extend Contract of Commuter Rail Operator Keolis

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The contract for the operator of the MBTA's commuter rail system will be allowed to expire in 2022. (Published Friday, Jan. 6, 2017)

    The MBTA does not plan to extend the contract of the company that operates its commuter rail, it announced Thursday.

    Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack confirmed that the state will allow the agency's contract with Keolis to expire when it ends in June of 2022.

    "The current commuter rail contract with Keolis Commuter Services runs through June 30, 2022 and MassDOT will continue working closely with Keolis to provide excellent service to our customers for the duration of the contract," Pollack said in a statement sent to NBC Boston by the MBTA. "In keeping with good business practices, the MBTA is committed to evaluate the contract structure and initiate a re-procurement before the current contract expires. The decision not to extend the current 8 year contract is not a reflection of Keolis' performance; indeed, I fully expect that Keolis would compete as part of the re-procurement."

    The contract was signed when Deval Patrick was still the governor of Massachusetts. It is worth $2.69 billion, with two two-year options to extend. Current Gov. Charlie Baker's administration has since investigated concerns about the MBTA Commuter Rail.

    "Keolis is fully committed to Boston, as demonstrated by our recent decision to relocate our North America headquarters here, and we remain focused on providing a safe and reliable service to our passengers every day," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to work in close partnership with the MBTA to deliver the level of service our passengers expect and deserve, while also continuing to bring forward the types of innovative solutions that have made us a global leader in public transportation."

    "More than two years have passed since Keolis assumed operations, and their delivery of services, even apart from the 2016 winter issues, has raised a number of management concerns which I believe are derived from the nature of the contract itself," Democratic Rep. William Straus, the chair of the House Transportation Committee, wrote to Pollack in October of 2016, according to the State House News Service.

    In a letter to Straus, Pollack said she shares many of his concerns about the contract and Keolis' performance.

    "The MBTA also agrees that it is appropriate to begin thinking about possible alternative conracting structures and strategies for its commuter rail service in the future," she said. "As we discussed, the MBTA does not intend for its current commuter rail contract to extend beyond its remaining term, whether the next contract is with Keolis or a different provider: the T is committed to initiating a new procurement on a timeline that ensures that a new contract will be in place no later than the end of the current contract period."

    Keolis was awarded an eight-year, nearly $2.7 billion contract by the MBTA in 2014 to run the 394-mile commuter rail system. The company is a subsidiary of French group Keolis International.

    Keolis has reported losing more than $40 million over the first 18 months of the contract.