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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Commuter rail goes off track

Heck, even Joe DeNucci saw there was a problem. But that never stopped the heads of the MBTA and its dysfunctional commuter rail arm from sticking it to commuters -- and taxpayers.

The Globe reports today on the cozy relationship between the MBTA and Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail -- Jim O'Leary, a former T general manager founded the operation and current T boss Richard Davey worked there -- and how riders and taxpayers have paid the price in lousy service where MBCR was rewarded not just with waived penalties but with actual bonuses.

It was such a sweetheart deal that even our recently retired state auditor blew the whistle -- not that anyone was listening.

The sordid saga is one where contractual penalties for poor performance were reduced while bonuses for the occasional on-time ride were paid. It's hard to say what's the most shocking part of this Massachusetts business-as-usual relationship, although the ho-hum attitude toward on-time bonuses after the recent winter nightmare comes close:
“These incentives were earned and nobody is going to apologize for taking them,’’ said Mass Bay spokesman Scott Farmelant.
Heck, no one has really apologized to commuters for four-hour rides to Worcester or the recent South Station snafu, so why apologize for taking public money under false pretenses?

The account by Sean Murphy and Scott Allen reads like a traditional tale of Massachusetts insider-ism -- from Leary to Mulhern to Davey. Outsiders were discouraged from playing the game and reaping the rewards.

And DeNucci's timing in blowing the whistle was in eerie symmetry with commuter rail -- way too late.

But perhaps the hardest thing to stomach is the MBTA's attitude that it is partly to blame for not buying new locomotives in a timely fashion. No, the MBTA management is fully to blame, by sidestepping its board to make sweetheart changes to benefit MBCR and its T alumni-cronies at the expense of the fare-paying rider.

Davey may be better at PR than his predecessor Dan Grabauskas, but the Globe portrait of insider trading is damning. Perhaps the better compensated leaders of the Department of Transportation should be taking a closer look at the MBTA-MBCR cesspool?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the operator of thee T's commuter rail lines changed some years ago, what changed besides the company the check was made out to? The same employees ran things. The same stock was run on the same tracks. Why should we have expected a different outcome? The whole idea of the company is a sweetheart deal, from the salaries to the connected nature of how they got the contract in the first place. The whole system needs to be blown up (euphemistically speaking) and recreated from scratch with new people without an entrenched method of doing things.

May 15, 2011 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Rich said...

Nice article you have on your site. Which the commuter rail which goes off it would be big disaster. Thanks a lot for sharing this article

November 19, 2011 9:48 AM  

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