Wednesday, March 23, 2005

T Watch - Mar 12, 05 | 10:40 am

BadTransit monitors several MBTA information sources.
We have it all. MBTA scandal, death, delay, or lawsuit... all in one convenient compilation
:: Just one day after a woman was injured and had to be extracted from a "safe" MBTA escalator by the Cambridge Fire Department, the T's Board of Directors pushed through a contract renewal for the company that supposedly maintains them.

The T's Board of Directors, sitting comfortably, cranked through a 5 month, $3.5 Million, contract extension to Kone, Inc. the contractor supposedly responsible for keeping the T's escalators and elevators working and safe. Kone will likely win a new 5 year contract bid as well, but the $32 Million they proposed was deemed too expensive.

The death of of an ElSalvadorian man at Porter Square last week tops the list. The victim was strangled by a "safe" escalator in the well-monitored facility (sarcasm intended) after a garment became tangled in the works. The T managed to supress reports of the tragedy but it eventually leaked out.

Then, just a day before the T's Board warmed their seats and spent more cash, a young woman was entrapped for almost an hour by another "safe" escalator at Harvard Station. The Cambridge Fire Department had to carefully remove her from the jaws of the device.

And then there's the news, just coming out, of a man in a wheelchair who was nearly killed when boarding an elevator. Apparently, with the doors still open, the device began to ascend. To avoid being crushed, the victim had to throw himself on the elevator's floor. He was discovered there, with the elevator partially raised and his wheelchair smashed. No explanation why this event was never publicized.

''We're faced with a difficult challenge," said Anne Herzenberg, chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. ''I would not say performance has been good at this time. . . . I would have to blame the contractor, mostly. . . . We clearly need to push harder to get them to perform."

Herzenberg said the T has fined Kone $567,000 for failures to perform routine maintenance. She said Kone officials have told her that because of the fines, the company was not making any profit on its current five-year contract with the T. The contract increased from $12 million to $17 million after new elevators and escalators were added to the transit system.

''We're not pleased," said Transportation Secretary Daniel A. Grabauskas, who chairs the MBTA board. ''Maybe they can make a little less." {Boston Globe}

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