MBCR gets another THREE years?!?

So, we'd heard rumors that MBCR, which "runs" the commuter rail, might get time added to its contract. Word this afternoon: their 5-year contract has been extended for three years! This for a system that "has regularly trailed Chicago's Metra, New York's Metro-North, New Jersey Transit's commuter rail, and the Long Island Rail Road, in on-time performance," according to Sunday's Globe.

As the Sunday story notes, three years is less than what MBCR wanted, but more than the minimum for a transition to a new contract.

Which begs the question: with MBCR's performance so poor throughout the life of the contract, why wasn't MBTA making preparations to rebid the contract on time?

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Sounds like a padded schedule (no, not the trains)

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I find it difficult to believe that the T needs a minimum of two years to prepare, solicit bids for, and award a new commuter rail contract.

Especially since they've done this sort of thing before (when Amtrak was bounced in favor of Make Believe Commuter Rail).

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I'm not exactly surprised

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It's going to take them three years to install an elevator in Copley station.

I think the first rule of any major project with the T is that everyone abandon it for at least 12 months after it begins.

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beggin' the answer

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Which begs the question: with MBCR's performance so poor throughout the life of the contract, why wasn't MBTA making preparations to rebid the contract on time?

Monkey see, monkey do...

(I really like the name Make-Believe Commuter Railroad now.)

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Believable but still shocking

As a commuter rail rider, I can believe that the MBTA renewed the MBCR's contract. However, it is still shocking that poor performance grants an organization a contract extension. I just hope that the Worcester-Framingham line isn't still at the bottom of the performance heap this time next year. Both the T and the MBCR need to create a functioning transit system.

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Single year renewal?

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The MCBR should have been treated like an aging but still potentially useful baseball player.

Give them a three year contract, with potential for cancellation each year and a weight clause.

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Three years

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When I saw "MBCR gets three years" my first thought was that it was a light sentence.

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What's the alternative?

Nobody wants to run the commuter rail. IIRC, Amtrak didn't even bid for the contract last time around. Do you think the MBTA has some other band of nutcases in the wings willing to do their job for them if they boot MBRC?

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Alternatives to MBCR

One alternative would be for the MBTA to run it in-house instead of hiring a contractor. I believe all of the NYC-area commuter rails are run this way.

Another would be to bring back the Boston & Maine -- but they lost the contract in the 1980s after a labor strike against them shut the whole north-side system down for months.

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Double Edged Sword

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Ron, this is a great idea, as it would cut out the large administrative fee (profit) that any middle man contractor is paid, which in light of MBCR's contract price is probably very large and could be used for other things. On the other hand, I imagin that there is a reason that the T started putting the commuter rail operation out for bid. Its either because they tried themselves and failed or because they looked at the difficulties of even trying and recognized that they were not up to the job. This is always the double edged sword of government contracting when it comes to services. Can the public (or quasi public) employees perform as well as they could if they were private employees? Its hard to say. I will say this, however: the logic of out-sourcing a government service is typically that, at the very least, the contractor will be able to act more efficiently by elimenating red tape, quickly implementing solutions to problems and being able to easily terminate bad employees while operating at the same or lower cost. I'm not sure that the MBCR has been able to accomplish any of these things because of the way their contract is set up, the ownership of the rails and trains by the MBTA, and the strength of the MBTA employees union. It would interesting for Deval's new State transportation board to do a study of how much the MCBR is behaving like a public entity versus a private contractor. That way, you could at least tell if MCBR was adding the kind of value typically sought from outsourcing.

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There's no way the T is

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There's no way the T is going to take over the commuter rail. They don't want to deal with the headache and there's no guarantee they could do a better job or do it for less.

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MBCR Banking

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Does anyone know who MBCR's corporate bank is?

Thanks Darren

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