T notes: Privatization at bus garages off the table?

T notes: Privatization at bus garages off the table?

Still no contract details, but comments suggest union retained work

NO ONE IS RELEASING any details about the MBTA’s proposed multi-year contract with the union representing bus machinists, but it would appear the deal doesn’t include the privatization of any garages.

The union has said all along that job security was its only focus, and top transportation officials on Monday praised T management for coming to terms with Local 264 of the International Association of Machinists.

Joseph Sullivan, a member of the state Department of Transportation board and the mayor of Braintree, said the deal was recognition of the professional work the machinists have done. Tim King, who also serves on the MassDOT board, heads the Massachusetts Police Association, and sided with the union during the tense negotiations, thanked union and T officials for working together.

T officials announced more than a year ago their plans to privatize some bus maintenance garages. They asked private companies to bid on the work; only one company, First Transit of Cincinnati, submitted a bid. Local 264 mounted a fierce campaign against privatization, enlisting the help of Democratic politicians at the state and federal level.

At a meeting of the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday, MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez thanked Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack for helping with the negotiations, an indication that Gov. Charlie Baker’s top transportation aide played a role in reaching an agreement.

Asked why she got involved, Pollack said: “I get involved in things that are important if I can be helpful.” She declined to discuss details.

Real IDs are coming

Massachusetts drivers can start applying for new federally approved driver’s licenses starting March 26, but individuals must appear in-person at Registry of Motor Vehicles offices to obtain them.

Starting in October 2020, so-called Real IDs will be acceptable forms of identification for Massachusetts residents when they take trips by plane or seek entrance to federal buildings. Passports are another form of acceptable identification.

The timetable gives Massachusetts residents about 2.5 years before their existing driver’s license will no longer be accepted for air travel. Officials said residents can make the switch to the new license when their old one expires or, if their license doesn’t expire before October 2020, they can replace it with a Real ID license by paying $25.

Many other states have already embraced Real IDs. Registrar Erin Devaney said 90 percent of residents in most other northeastern states have migrated to the new identification cards.

The RMV is rolling out a new mainframe computer system at the same time it rolls out the Real IDs, but Devaney said her office is ready for the changeover. She noted nearly 172,000 people were serviced by the Registry in December, and 86 percent of the customers were in and out in less than a half hour while only 2 percent had to wait longer than an hour.

Student pass usage increases

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The MBTA’s monthly student pass, which can be purchased by middle and high school students, saw a sharp uptick in usage over the summer.

T officials said on Monday that 9,883 of the passes were sold in July and August, an increase of 8,000 compared to the same period in 2016. The officials said the cards were used, or tapped, 1 million time during the two-month period, compared to just 300,000 times the year before.