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The Fiscal and Management Control Board of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) yesterday endorsed an agreement aimed at improving service along the agency's commuter-rail lines.The agreement between MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services, which is under contract to operate the agency's commuter-rail lines, will address on-time performance, staffing, operations, equipment maintenance, customer service, fare collection and winter weather resiliency plans. The five-month agreement "instills a sense of urgency into the strategy for service improvements to be made in the short term," Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials said on the agency's blog.The agreement follows "unprecedented" winter weather conditions in February, which forced the MBTA to temporarily shut down some lines and alter service along commuter-rail routes for several weeks. "We can, and will do better," said MassDOT Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Pollack. "I'm pleased that Keolis has agreed in writing to work harder to achieve our shared goal of providing the level of service Commuter Rail customers expect and deserve."By incorporating findings from an analysis of earlier service disruptions, the MBTA and Keolis have agreed to measure improvements in service against an overall adjusted on-time performance goal of 92 percent, with no line falling below 90 percent, MassDOT officials said.Additionally, the two entities will commit to ensuring that 65 locomotive are available for service each weekday, provide necessary coach seating capacity required under the contract and develop a plan to enhance fare collection. The plan also calls for MBTA and Keolis to conduct a complete review of the system schedule to develop revisions that meet customer demand and optimize on-time performance, in addition to holding periodic training sessions and workforce development programs for commuter-rail staff.Further, the provisions of the agreement include a new life cycle maintenance plan for early detection of future maintenance needs, MassDOT officials said.The provisions of the service improvement plan supplement, but do not supersede, MBTA's contract with Keolis.
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