Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has entered into an agreement for a new commuter rail contract with Keolis Commuter Services.
MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott said customer benefits will be realized in a number of key areas including on-time performance, vehicle reliability, cleanliness, fare collection and communications. The MBTA Board voted unanimously to accept Scott’s recommendation of an eight-year contract with four option years. Keolis will begin operating the system on July 1.
Designed to improve service reliability, the new contract includes more stringent performance criteria and fewer acceptable excuses for service delays. For example, the current contract automatically grants the operator allowances for circumstances, such as overcrowding on platforms, slippery rail conditions caused by leaves falling on the rail and disabled freight trains. The new contract removes this entire list of excused events, exposing the operator to penalties for not meeting on-time performance criteria.
The contract places additional emphasis on vehicle/station cleanliness and passenger comfort. For the first time, 50 percent of the amount of financial disincentives that the operator will be subject to under the new contract will be tied to elements of customer satisfaction other than on-time performance, such as cleanliness, heating and air conditioning, maintaining staffing levels and customer communications.
Maintenance provisions have been strengthened to require the operator to adhere to a strict lifecycle maintenance schedule. The new contract also increases daily inspection requirements for locomotives and coaches.
The contract provides specific instructions on the operator’s obligations in the event of service disruptions including: adding staff, promptly notifying customers and the MBTA about the nature and extent of the impact on service, as well as providing alternate transportation as necessary.
Keolis’ 12-year price of $4.26 billion is lower than Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company’s price of $4.51 billion. The total price variance is $254 million over the term of the new contract.