MBTA extends commuter rail contract with Keolis

News Wire Digest for June 16: Boston agency to introduce new five-day pass; New York Stock Exchange ends ban on transit use
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MBTA

Tuesday morning rail news in brief:

MBTA extends Keolis operating contract to 2025

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has extended its commuter rail operating contract with Keolis Commuter Services through at least 2025 — an extension that state transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack once said would never take place. The Boston Globe reports the extension is good through 2026, although the MBTA has an option to terminate a year earlier. Pollack said in 2017 that the MBTA would allow the current deal to expire in 2022, because of unhappiness over Keolis’ performance, but MBTA officials had recently indicated an extension was likely, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the law creating the MBTA’s oversight group, the Fiscal Management and Control Board, is about to expire. [See “MBTA board considers extending contract with commuter operator,” News Wire Digest, April 14, 2020.] The Boston Herald reports that the new deal — which replaces the remainder of the existing contract as well as covering the extension — will pay Keolis $2.56 billion in operating costs and $97 million in capital costs over the next six years.

MBTA to try new five-day rail pass
The MBTA also announced it would introduce a new rail pass reflecting the changing commuting habits of the COVID-19 era. The agency will offer a “Five-Day Flex Pass” from July 1 through the end of September, aimed at those who are no longer commuting regularly. Boston.com reports the pass, priced at 90% of the cost of five round-trip tickets, will be good for five days of travel in a 30-day period. “The idea here is that certain folks who may have purchased a monthly pass in the past may be working with a partial work from home schedule, so a monthly pass may not be the right product for them,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said during Monday’s control board meeting.

Stock exchange ends ban on public transit use
The New York Stock Exchange has ended its ban on the use of public transit by staff and visitors, three weeks after imposing the rule. The New York Daily News reports that Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Patrick J. Foye called the decision “welcome news as our system is safer and cleaner than it has ever been.” The stock exchange continues to operate with a reduced number of people to accommodate social distancing.
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