March 4, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Boston, MA – In 2014, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority signed an $18.6 million contract to outsource the repair of 32 city buses.
The buses, used on the four Silver Line bus-rapid-transit routes, were due for a midlife repair, a job historically done half in-house and half by outside contractors. But the MBTA decided to give the whole job to the Maine Military Authority, a state-backed agency that refurbishes military vehicles. It had submitted a bid almost $4 million less than the MBTA’s cost estimate. “After the first bus took 10,000 hours to overhaul, it became clear that MMA had significantly underestimated the technical challenges posed by the repairs and had underbid for the job,” writes Craig Hughes, business representative of International Association of Machinists Local 264, which represents MBTA bus maintenance and repair workers. Maine Gov. Paul LePage stopped the repairs last November with only 11 buses done, saying it would cost the state $6 million to finish the rest. On Feb. 6, the MBTA’s fiscal control board approved a $1 million addition to the contract, projecting that it would add another $3 million if the Maine legislature would appropriate funds to cover costs above that. Read more