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Board Considers Using Outside Vendor To Operate, Maintain New MBTA Buses

MBTA officials on Monday agreed to call staff back before the T board in the coming weeks with more details about putting 60 new buses on the roads to address demand during peak periods.

The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board is weighing the possibility of working with an outside vendor to operate and maintain the new buses, versus the traditional in-house approach to bus service and maintenance. Board members are also continuing to explore bus routes for the new vehicles, and related personnel needs.

If the outside vendor approach is chosen, the board may issue a request for proposals in February. The buses could begin service under alternatives discussed Monday anywhere from December to March 2021.

If the outside approach is taken, bids could potentially arrive in the summer and the control board is due to dissolve, under current law, on June 30.

"We're not going to be here when this decision gets made," board member Chrystal Kornegay said.

"It will be a gift to the next board," responded board chairman Joseph Aiello. Board member Brian Shortsleeve said the board should move forward soon with an RFP to test the market. "We should have done this a year ago," he said. "Let's get something on the street."

Board members are trying to integrate the new buses while simultaneously expanding the T's ability to maintain its bus fleet, including low-emission buses. Authority officials say their garages are at or over capacity.

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