Top T Official Rejects Losing Bidder's Complaints

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A top MBTA official has rejected claims by the losing bidder for the contract to run the state's commuter rail system that it was treated unfairly and the bidding process was flawed.

Silvio Petraglia, chief procurement officer for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, on Monday upheld the decision to award the $2.68 billion contract to Keolis Commuter Services, at the expense of the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co.

"These circumstances do not present a close call. Under the circumstances, an award to MBCR would have been inexplicable," Petraglia wrote in a 17-page report after a formal review of the bids.

MBCR claims there was a series of problems with the winning bid, which could end up being worth $4.2 billion.

MBCR, which has operated the commuter rail service since 2003, said T officials coached Keolis on how to win the contract, and questioned aspects of the Keolis bid, including financing, security and safety.

Petraglia was not involved in the selection process.

An MBCR spokesman told The Boston Globe the decision was disappointing, but the railroad stood by its claims.

"When two-plus years of time is invested, there is an expectation that the rules matter and that the procurement process is sacrosanct," Scott Farmelant said. "It's clear here that the details in the proposal did not matter."

Under T rules, MBCR can appeal Petraglia's decision to the T's general counsel, but Farmelant said he did not know whether that step would be pursued.

MBCR has asked a judge to block Keolis from taking over as scheduled on July 1 and to reopen the bidding process. A hearing is scheduled for later this month.

The commuter railroad handles about 70,000 passengers per weekday.