T reaches agreement to fix Silver Line buses

T reaches agreement to fix Silver Line buses

Maine governor had halted contract with state-backed entity to refurbish equipment

THE MBTA’S Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a $1 million addition to a contract with a Maine state government-backed equipment refurbishing company after the pact was suspended by Gov. Paul LePage because the deal was significantly underbid and in danger of costing Pine State residents millions of dollars.

Board members okayed the million-dollar addition with the potential for another $1 million infusion to the $18.6 million contract with the Maine Military Authority to overhaul the decade-old bus fleet that is powered by both diesel fuel and an electric generator. The repair contract for the 32-bus fleet, which was bid in 2013, was the only bid the T received and came in nearly 18 percent below estimate.

Maine Military is a legislatively created authority that had been formed to refurbish military equipment but has since branched out to transit and school buses as the opportunities for military equipment diminished. Last fall, with only 11 refurbished buses delivered, LePage suspended the contract because of a potential $6 million cost to the state in fulfilling the remainder of the agreement.

T officials say the unique expertise that Maine Military possesses makes retaining the company the best option to complete the repairs and said because the T had originally estimated the budget for the contract to be nearly $4 million higher, the money should be available to put towards ensuring the contract restart. The revised contract will total $22.7 million, including refurbishing five generators not part of the original estimate. Officials said there is $1.9 million available in the project budget, requiring authorization of an additional $2.1 million to get the job finished.

“These buses need work,” said MBTA chief operating officer Jeff Gonneville, adding it could add a year or two to the repairs if the work was brought in-house. He said the unique nature of the dual modality power systems required expertise and equipment the T did not possess.

LePage met with MBTA officials last week and more talks are planned. Maine has offered to cover $6 million in past debt associated with the buses already repaired and would cover anything above the revised contract price. The Maine state legislature has to approve the $6 million agreement.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

While board members expressed optimism about getting the buses in good repair, they were also skeptical about the hold-up by LePage.

“I feel like we’re getting taken advantage of a little bit here,” said Steven Poftak.