- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - The losing bidder for the contract to run the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail service asked a judge Thursday to block the winning bidder from taking over as scheduled this summer.

Favoritism tainted the process that awarded a contract to Keolis Commuter Services, according to the complaint filed by The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. in Suffolk Superior Court. MBCR asked the contract be invalidated or the bidding to be reopened.

MBCR’s court filing, first reported by The Boston Globe (https://b.globe.com/1e5e3sv ), contends Keolis failed to include an adequate security plan, lied about its record of accidents and fatalities in Europe and failed to meet requirements for hiring minority-owned subcontractors.

The filing also says the MBTA helped guide Keolis through the bidding procedures, in some cases coaching it during the process, and violated state bidding laws. MBCR also alleges the narrow profit margin Keolis outlined is too risky to be realistic and the MBTA underestimated the cost of running the system by $428 million.

Keolis‘ final bid totaled about $254 million less over the 12-year period than MBCR’s final bid and Keolis will be paid $304 million in the first year of the contract, compared to the $316 million that MBCR currently receives, MBTA officials said at the time the contract was awarded in January.

At a minimum, the contract is worth almost $2.7 billion over eight years and could be worth more than $4.2 billion over 12 years.

“The holes in the MBTA’s procurement process are big enough to drive a locomotive through,” said Alan Moldawer, an attorney for MBCR. “Every bid for a government contract must adhere to a strict, legally proscribed process, but the MBTA ignored its fundamental responsibility to provide a level playing field to both bidders and overlooked obvious deficiencies that allowed (Keolis) to stay in the bid process.”

The MBCR has run the commuter rail system since 2003, handling about 70,000 passengers each weekday in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

A Keolis spokesman called MBCR’s assertions misleading.

MBCR is trying to “disguise their own shortcomings and create an atmosphere of disorder” and is playing the role of “obstructionist,” spokesman Alan Eisner said.

MBTA officials said they are reviewing the allegations.

“If MBCR proceeds to seek an injunction, it will do so in blatant violation of the procedural rules it agreed to and the contractual promises it made to the MBTA under its current contract,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in a statement.


Information from: The Boston Globe, https://www.bostonglobe.com

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