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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has awarded a $2.6 billion, eight-year contract to Keolis North America to manage and maintain the agency's commuter-rail service.The contract represents the single-largest public transportation contract in the United States, Keolis officials said in a press release. The agreement includes an option for two additional two-year extensions. If granted, the contract's total value would rise to $4.2 billion over 12 years. Keolis will operate and manage MBTA under Keolis Commuter Services."The new commuter-rail contract will lead to an enhanced customer experience, more effective management and greater operator accountability," said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott in a prepared statement. The new agreement will benefit riders in a key areas including on-time performance, vehicle reliability, cleanliness, fare collection and communications, she said.Known as "the T," the MBTA is the fifth-largest rail system in the nation. It serves 127,000 riders daily with 13 lines, 671 track miles and 134 stations.In obtaining the operator contract, Keolis will replace the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. (MBCR), which has served MBTA for the past decade. Yesterday, MBCR asked Suffolk County Superior Court judge to halt the award and invalidate the new contract. In its court filing, MBCR cited irreparable harm created by the MBTA's decision to move forward with transition to a new operator while refusing to review MBCR's formal protest in a timely manner, MBCR officials said in a press release.
Among its concerns, MBCR claimed that its request for an injunction followed discovery of "serious deficiencies and errors" in commuter-rail procurement documents that MBTA made public after a public records request."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 SNCF/Keolis to stay in the bid process."