Underbidding works: State to pay commuter-rail operator more money to run the trains

The Herald reports the state will pay Keolis $66 million more over the next six years because it turns out the company can't really run the sort of train service we expect for the price it initially bid.

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Twist ending (to the Globe article on this)

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At the very end of the Globe article, there's a line that the commuter rail schedules will be "tweaked" again around October...
As a rider, this line was as important as the rest of the article. There's shenanigans at the T? That's not surprising to me. Sorta sounds like they're tricking the legislature into funding functional locomotives & cars, which I'm cautiously optimistic about being good thing. But another schedule change? I'm not sure that will be in commuters' favors.

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Actually, the October

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Actually, the October schedule tweak will be minor. Whenever a significantly new schedule is released (as happened in May), there will always be minor hiccups in it. Small things they forgot about. Things they thought would work, but didn't actually work in real life.

They can only easily change the schedules in May and October, as that is when Keolis railroad employees bid on job assignments. So anything from the May schedules that doesn't seem to be working will be fixed in October. There are a few things we know will be tweaked, for example a conflict with Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited at Worcester. But on the whole the schedules will stay essentially the same.

I can't emphasize enough how minor of a thing this actually is compared to the May schedule change. It's literally just a tiny bit of cleanup.

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You Know

The easiest way to improve on-time performance is to cut the number of trains you run. Duh.

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And the best way to improve

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And the best way to improve on-time performance is to fix or replace the abysmally unreliable trains. Look up their Mean Distance Between Failures if you ever want to get yourself angry.

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oops

The problem is, once you get it down to a single train every day, you really have to make sure it leaves on time or the numbers are borked!

(edited: replied to wrong comment)

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Ridiculous

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People are standing in the cars now

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You have to resolve the South

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You have to resolve the South Station issue ( buy USP annex ) and stop expansion adventurisms. Get responsible for existing operations first.

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All true...

...but the Postal Service doesn't want to sell, and the legislature would rather extend unreliable service to The South Coast (TM) than bring existing service up to snuff.

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USPS and South Sta

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I have been around (on an off) the "move the USPS facility" discussions since I have been out of undergrad. We're talking the 1990s here. As everyone knows, the USPS needs $$ badly, and, at the direction of its federal overlords, it is merely waiting to milk the Commonwealth for maximum $. The laughable "Stevie Lynch as Savior" routine is not going to save the Commonwealth any money either (despite his efforts to position himself as "the guy" - Joe Moakley on the other hand, well, let's just say that South Sta would already be bigger if he had lived longer).

This is another reason (of many) why advancing planning/study for a N/S Rail Link makes sense. At a bare minimum, it puts another option on the table and conveys in a credible way to the USPS that it might not be the only game in town. If the state looks like its getting serious about N/S rail link, the USPS price goes down.

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South Station Expansion Final Environmental Impact Report

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From an e-mail I received last week, for those interested:

Dear Friends of South Station,
The South Station Expansion project Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) is now available for public review and comment. MassDOT filed the FEIR with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office on June 30, 2016. The document is available for public review and can be found on the project website:

http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/southstationexpansion/Home.aspx

There will be a public meeting on the matter regarding MassDOT's findings on the FEIR:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Atlantic Wharf, Fort Point Room, 2nd floor
290 Congress Street, Boston, MA

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what.

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Bidding For State Contracts For Dummies

Step 1: Figure out what the lowest extant bid is. Bid 10% less.
Step 1a: Don't listen to anyone who tells you crazy things like "If your operating budget is $1 billion, and you're selling 10 million tickets for $10 apiece, you have a big problem."
Step 2: Fail publicly and spectacularly. Get the Globe to run stories about your managerial and operational incompetence. Make it a running joke, so the NY Post starts printing clever headlines about your ineptitude.
Step 3: No worries, the state will just unilaterally adjust the terms of the contract so that you're breaking even, which drives your actual price up above what the highest original bid was.
Step 4: Profit!

Note: this strategy only applies to public transit bids. If you want to make money on highway bids, consider buying a copy of our sister publication, Passing The Big Dig Debt Onto The Public Transit Authority's Books And Then Riding It To A Gubernatorial Election For Dummies

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Bidding For State Contracts

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Bidding For State Contracts For Dummies

...with a foreword by Max Bialystock

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I'm gonna try this at the office!

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"Hey, boss, I know you hired me for $xyz, but i realized that salary's not enough, so I need you to give me more money."

I'd get laughed of the building, if not my entire profession.

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What?

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I turned down my raise during my annual review and demanded more, two months later they doubled their initial offer. Learn to advocate for yourself..

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My company considers every

My company considers every employee replaceable and thus has a blanket policy of not negotiating salaries. You take what you're offered, or they offer you the door.

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Getting harder

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Depends what you do, but with boomers retiring and an economy close to full employment, it's getting hard to replace a lot of people.

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interesting framing

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Hmmm... now it's "MBTA officials" who want to give Keolis a raise. So when it's good news it's "Governor Baker's crack team of efficiency overlords on the Fiscal Management and Control Board" but when it's calling raised T fares on a Charlie Card NOT an increase in fees or continuing the process of having MBCR-like draining of public funds for the commuter rail due to obviously shittily-underbid contracts, it's "MBTA officials." Ok, I get it now.

So apparently Baker is "making sweet, sweet love" to tax payers right now?

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When the green line went over

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When the green line went over budget, Baker put it on hold and dramatically cut it, and work has yet to start again (his admin has said it wont restart until at least 1.5 years, if it ever does). The longfellow and Anderson bridges, both over budget, are moving along, and now the commuter rail is getting more money than budgeted. So why the different priorities Baker? Republicans take commuter rail and drive more than they take buses and subways?
Can we get more money for increased bus service, many lines need much more frequent trips and some are so jammed all the time more buses are needed. Increasing off peak orange line service would be great too, unless Charlie is only willing to spend money to increase commuter rail and roads/bridges.

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The Longfellow carries the

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The Longfellow carries the busiest subway line. The Anderson carries a key bus route. Neither bridge carries the Commuter Rail, and neither is *that* important to the road network (which is why they could close half the lanes on one, and three quarters on the other, during construction).

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Why am I not surprised

- raggedy-assed engines and cars
- paying more for service
- completely stressed Keolis employees

Yeah, I'm going back to sleep. I think I know how this is gonna end...

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Keolis Delays and Cancellations

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Is anything being done about the almost daily cancellation of trains on the Newburyport/Rockport line? My phone is filled with notices every morning. Are these being monitored, and will they be accounted for in the performance measures supposedly in place?

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