By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Keolis

Is this any way to run a railroad?

I’ve tried to be optimistic about Gov. Charlie Baker’s management of the MBTA. But there are some ominous signs that he’s less interested in creating a world-class public transportation system than he is in reducing costs for his non-T-riding supporters. Three examples:

    • As Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung notes, officials are getting ready to pull the plug on late-night service, which she calls “expensive, impractical, and yet aspiring and completely necessary.” (She compares them to Manolo Blahniks, which Google tells me are shoes.)
    • The MBTA has decided to cancel art works that were going to be installed along the Green Line Extension, a project that may cost $1 billion more than first thought. It’s a short-sighted move that indicates we don’t care about our public spaces.
    • The new commuter-rail schedule announced by Keolis includes significant cuts in service. A number of legislators have written to the T and Keolis to express their concerns. I had thought the reworked schedule was aimed at coming up with a rational timetable that Keolis could actually meet — not at drastically reducing the number of trains.

People are moving to the city and the inner suburbs because transportation from farther away — roads and highways as well as trains and buses — has fallen apart. Baker’s agenda raises the specter that it’s going to become harder and harder to get around in urban neighborhoods as well.

In West Medford, #MBTApocalypse hits a new low


A train arrives in West Medford — but not this morning.

One of the most frustrating aspects of #MBTApocalypse is that is that we mere mortals who rely on the commuter rail have no idea whether to blame Keolis, the T or some combination thereof.

For me, though, the entire experience hit rock bottom this morning in what I think was an unusually shameful (or maybe I should say shameless) episode. I walked to the West Medford train station to catch the 8:58 to North Station. There were a couple of dozen people waiting. The electronic sign that normally provides updates was out. And there was No Train.

The T app said it had broken down and was stuck in Wilmington. But there were no further updates. We had no way of knowing whether a train would be showing up any moment or if, instead, all trains were backed up behind it. I asked the flagman; despite being equipped with a walkie-talkie, he didn’t know. A half-hour later I walked back home and drove in to work. I still don’t know when or if the 8:58 ever arrived.

It’s been two weeks since the last major snowstorm, and Keolis and/or the T still can’t stick to the reduced schedule that will be in effect for another month. Meanwhile, the economy suffers and the roads are choked with drivers who’d rather be taking public transportation. There’s no longer any excuse that I want to listen to. Just fix it.

Revs. Rivers and Wall’s $105,000 ‘invoice’

Adrian Walker has an absolutely stunning column on page one of The Boston Globe today. He reports that two well-known African-American ministers, Eugene Rivers and Bruce Wall, recently submitted a $105,000 “invoice” for services (not) rendered to Keolis North America, the company that was recently awarded the commuter-rail contract by the MBTA.

Rivers and Wall are reportedly pushing Keolis on diversity issues. Last December, Martine Powers of the Globe reported that Wall and other ministers were criticizing Keolis’ record and were concerned about the French company’s behavior during the Nazi era.

Whether Rivers and Wall were engaging in a piece of ill-advised political theater (as seems likely) or if there is something more nefarious going on, I’m sure we can look forward to learning more in the days ahead.

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