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Eight supervisors at the largest commuter agency in Massachusetts were told Wednesday they were being fired for allegedly falsifying maintenance records for over 20 percent of the bus fleet.
Richard Davey, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said the group committed a years-long scheme — over three of the T's nine garages — in which they told a computer database the buses had been inspected as required every 6,000 miles.
In at least one case, one of the more than 200 buses in question went 35,000 miles without its required inspection.
Davey told reporters that passengers were not at risk, since other inspections, including routine pre-trip walkarounds, did not find problems. But Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan said the workers were being terminated because the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is committed to passenger safety and convenience.
He said he could not explain why the inspections would have been skipped. He said there was no evidence the workers were gaining leisure time or had any financial incentive not to do the work. Mullan said similar problems were not found at the MBTA's other six bus maintenance garages.
T officials said they had also checked their subway, light rail, and commuter rail lines and found no alleged fraud.
"It is a complicated, redundant inspection protocol that requires a lot of work," Mullan said of the bus inspections. "It would not surprise me that people would do this to avoid, and get away from, the backlog that inevitably builds up when you don't keep the pace."
Those fired or told they are being terminated include three of the T's six superintendents, one of its 14 supervisors and four of its 50 forepersons.
The superintendents did not have union protections, so they were fired effective immediately. The other five had collective bargaining rights, so they were informed they were being terminated and suspended immediately without pay.
Mullan said the group may also face criminal prosecution, since the T accepts Federal Transit Administration funding that contractually requires certain inspections.
Davey refused to name the workers, and they could not immediately be located for comment. They worked at the T's Charlestown, Southampton Street and Arborway garages.
The T has 1,050 buses that make 361,000 bus passenger trips each day.
The Charlestown garage has about 70 workers maintaining 225 buses. The Southampton Street garage has about 35 workers tending to 88 buses. The Arborway garage has another roughly 35 workers caring for 118 buses.
The T's bus maintenance fleet has about 650 workers, including supervisors and rank-and-file employees.
This program aired on April 14, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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