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.
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.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.