MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby BandA » Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:17 pm

So $800K is for just 1 month? That's a steep fine.

How have they done on the stated goal of cleaning all the cars?
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby Arborwayfan » Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:56 pm

Also Keolis must have known more or less what the state of repair, age of equipment, etc., would be when they bid on the contract in the first place.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby deathtopumpkins » Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:55 am

BandA wrote:How have they done on the stated goal of cleaning all the cars?


Terrible.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby octr202 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:34 am

Up north, I'd say there was a sweet spot around late August into September where cars did seem a bit cleaner (with the exception of the MBBs...I assume they skipped them on account of their likely demise). Not so sure it's held up, now it seems like the condition of the cars is back down to what it was before.

Of course, these days we're worried about whether the train makes it at all...
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby trainhq » Mon Nov 24, 2014 10:50 am

As far as I can tell, Keolis was brought in mostly on the strength of how they ran VRE in Virginia, which apparently was adequate. It's expected there will be issues while they make the transition; I remember right after it happened the Fitchburg line was a total mess, with trains routinely 20 minutes to an hour late. However, if the problems persist into the winter months, expect the T to try to put more pressure on them to do better. Isn't this what happened with MBCR too? Why does nothing change (or even change for the worse) when CR operators do? Maybe they should just try and bring back Amtrak the next time (if it still exists); the trains may have been dirty when they ran the CR, but at least they ran on time.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby BlueFreak » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:01 am

trainhq wrote:Why does nothing change (or even change for the worse) when CR operators do?


Because it's like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. No matter who the operator is, the equipment is just getting older and older without being replaced in a timely manner, all while it is getting spread thinner and thinner across the network. I doubt even Amtrak could run the trains on time these days...and they seem to be smart enough not to want to even try. At this point, the operator is really just being paid to be the "whipping boy" for the MBTA--after all, assuming the bidders did their calculations correctly, profitability is practically guaranteed on this contract (even after fines).

Honestly, I would be happy to see Keolis immediately turn around and contest the fine by blaming the MBTA for the lack of progress on capital equipment, since the ridership would start to learn that the true offender isn't the operator (MBCR or Keolis), but the MBTA itself. But I suspect they want to keep things a bit more harmonious in their first few months of the contract...
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby chrisf » Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:16 pm

trainhq wrote:Why does nothing change (or even change for the worse) when CR operators do? Maybe they should just try and bring back Amtrak the next time (if it still exists); the trains may have been dirty when they ran the CR, but at least they ran on time.

Keolis is running the commuter rail with the many of the same trains that Amtrak was using, but now they're a bunch older so I don't know that it's fair to fault Keolis at this point. So far, however, Keolis hasn't even kept up with MBCR in terms of on time performance, which is quite disappointing. For the past few weeks, late trains on the Needham branch have been the norm.
I'm pretty confident the T and Keolis expected to have many more of the new locomotives in reliable operation by now.
As for cleaner trains? No difference from MBCR that I can tell, really.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby trainhq » Mon Nov 24, 2014 4:09 pm

People have to recognize something about private CR operation; making money is
entirely due to cost cutting. There is no way to make a profit by running more trains, and there's only slight incentive to make money by running them on time (over time, people will simply stop riding, leading to fare loss). So, it appears every time around we get the same game; the company has to balance out how much money they are losing from paying fines vs. paying staff to maintain and operate the trains correctly. If the first is less than the second, there is always more incentive for bad service than for good. The only real risk in the long run is loss of the contract, as finally happened to MBCR. But right now, that's years away, so don't be surprised if Keolis starts down the same path of playing "fine chicken" with the T. Could be a cold, long-waiting winter for Boston commuters ahead.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby deathtopumpkins » Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:40 pm

IMHO the T should consider taking rail operations in-house, a la SEPTA, LIRR, NJT, MNCR. I'm starting to think there might finally be public sentiment towards that, and surely an agency as large as the T can handle it.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby GP40MC1118 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:10 pm

Then they would have no one to blame!

For: Questionable equipment acquisitions (GP40MC, HSP46, Rotems).
Glacial double track projects....an on and on
Commuter rail takes it on the chin from from subway/bus hierarchies. Witness
the GLX extension's space grab around BET.

And this is/was Keolis/MBCR's total fault?

D
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby B&M 1227 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:17 pm

GP40MC1118 wrote:Then they would have no one to blame!


I've heard this from several employees. If I were a taxpayer in the state I would be annoyed at throwing away millions to a private company operating with little incentive toward quality service just to avoid the blame...
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby Diverging Route » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:15 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:IMHO the T should consider taking rail operations in-house, a la SEPTA, LIRR, NJT, MNCR. I'm starting to think there might finally be public sentiment towards that, and surely an agency as large as the T can handle it.


Last year I asked a state official about that, and he explained that if it were taken in-house, they would be subject to existing collective bargaining wages/benefits that are significantly higher -- and that the cost to the state would be, as he said, unaffordable. Whether that's accurate or not, I would hope that the state thoroughly explored that option and dismissed it for prudent reasons.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby BandA » Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:06 pm

With the possible exception of the Fasttrack I-93 highway bridge repair project, Massachusetts has shown no ability to effectively manage large projects or agencies. I think it would be a mistake at this time to turn CR over to in-house operations.

From what I read, mostly here, Keolis is not making much on this contract. If they keep being fined $800K/mo, they will essentially make nothing. Course if they are that bad they won't make it through the contract.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby Finch » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:17 pm

Still a bit early to be giving up hope. They are definitely on the steep part of the learning curve right now.
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Re: MBTA Fines Keolis Over $800K For Delays, Other Problems

Postby trainhq » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:32 pm

From what I read, mostly here, Keolis is not making much on this contract. If they keep being fined $800K/mo, they will essentially make nothing. Course if they are that bad they won't make it through the contract.


One of the reasons they got rid of MBCR was due to a long period of bad service. If Keolis bid too low, it may not be possible for them to do it right either, as there just isn't enough money to pay the staff correctly. We don't know for sure right now. Let's give them a few more months to straighten things out before we write them off too.
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