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MBTA GM Mum On Bus Privatization Bidding (With Video)

MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez
MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez
Mike Deehan

The MBTA board could vote later this fall on whether to privatize some of its bus maintenance facilities, but the union representing the jobs that might be outsourced says the T only has one bidder for the work.

Mike Vartabedian of IAM Local 264 claims that only one contractor, First Transit, has bid to take over bus maintenance work.

"You put out the RFPs, you wind up getting one bid and a very questionable bidder, one that was actually sued by this state for abandoning a bid with the MBTA to take over The Ride," Vartabedian told WGBH News.

"So, you have this one bidder. And you still have on the other side, a union willing to offer savings in exchange for job security. And yet you still won’t sit down and legitimately negotiate," he said.

The MBTA won't reveal how many bids it has received, saying it needs to maintain the integrity of the bidding process.
When asked Wednesday morning at an event to christen the T's new commuter ferry vessel, MBTA general manager Luis Ramirez refused to answer questions about the bus maintenance bidding process.

Instead, Ramirez said he would repeat what he told the T's board at a meeting Monday.

"That we’re excited about what we’re doing with our three-part approach, partnering with external parties, we’re still working on productivity internally, and we’re also working, in good faith, with our unions." Ramirez said.

The state Democratic Party has called on Ramirez to recuse himself from any decision-making over the bus maintenance contract since he would be awarded an $8,000 bonus for a completed contract, even if there's only one choice.

Ramirez did not respond to a question about whether he'd recuse himself from the decision-making behind the bus maintenance contract.


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