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Posted on January 8, 2014

BOSTON – MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly A. Scott is pleased to announce that an intensive and thoughtful thirty-month long procurement process has resulted in a new Commuter Rail contract that will lead to an enhanced customer experience, more effective management and greater operator accountability. In requesting the MassDOT Board of Directors approve a contract with Keolis Commuter Services, Dr. 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 Board voted unanimously to accept Dr. Scott’s recommendation of an eight-year contract with four option years. Keolis will begin operating the Commuter Rail system on July 1st.

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.

Unlike the existing contract, the new contract does not include ANY incentive payments and, if performance standards are not met, imposes financial disincentives on the operator. The existing contract limited financial penalties to $3,000,000 per year. Under the new contract, the ceiling on performance failure payments is fixed at 75% of the operator's profit during the first year and 90% of the operator's profit in subsequent years. Performance failure payments, for example, will be imposed for late or cancelled trains – the operator may incur a performance failure payment ranging from $250 to $5,000 per train based on lateness. In all, financial penalties may exceed $12,000,000 per year under the new contract.

The new contract places additional emphasis on vehicle/station cleanliness and passenger comfort. For the first time, 50% 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 new 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 MBCR's price of $4.51 billion. The total price variance is $254 million over the term of the new contract.

The Selection Committee evaluated all Evaluation Factors set out in the Operations and Management Proposal. The Selection Committee evaluated each Evaluation Factor set forth in the RFP as well as the overall Operations and Management Proposal. After completing the Operations and Management Proposal evaluation, the Selection Committee evaluated the Financial/Price Proposals.

The new contractor will be held to the most stringent civil rights requirements and applicable state and federals laws. As clearly stated in the RFP, the contractor shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. The contractor will be required to comply with federal and state Civil Rights requirements as well as the MBTA’s policies regarding Civil Rights and DBE participation.

The labor and employment requirements of the new operating agreement mandate that the contractor hire from the current commuter rail workforce in seniority order and provide certain core terms of employment under the current collective bargaining agreements. The new contractor shall, at a minimum, pay its union employees the hourly wages per job classification or position currently held. In addition, the core terms require the contractor to provide health and welfare benefits that are substantially equivalent to those under current plans and recognize seniority rights.

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