The Purchase of Green Line Cars by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
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The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 recognized, among other rights, that people with disabilities should have equal access to transit services and facilities that are available to the non-disabled public.
In response to this need to ensure equal access for all patrons, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commissioned a feasibility study to review impediments to the disabled from accessing its transit system. The results of this study, issued by the MBTA in September, 1990, centered on feasibility investigations for full accessibility for persons in wheelchairs on the MBTA’s Green Line. In response to this study, on September 5, 1990, the MBTA Board authorized the General Manager to implement the recommendations of the study, which included utilizing elevators, escalators, ramps, and most importantly the use of low-floor, wheelchair accessible, light-rail vehicles as a means of providing accessibility on the Green Line.
To accomplish the low-floor light-rail vehicle concept, the MBTA Board of Directors voted on February 8, 1995 to award a contract for $215 million to Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie (AnsaldoBreda) of Pistoia, Italy. Under the terms of the contract, Breda agreed to furnish 100 wheelchair-accessible low-floor No. 8 Green Line cars, provide spare parts, and modify the 115 existing No. 7 Kinkisharyo cars for operational compatibility with these new No. 8 cars.
Our review, which is a follow-up of a prior audit of this contract (Audit No. 2002-0583-3A1) was conducted to determine the overall effectiveness of the MBTA procurement process and oversight over the delivery of these 100 low-floor accessible Green Line cars and the current status of this contract.
1. THE MBTA’S INABILITY TO ENSURE THAT THE NO. 8 LOW-FLOOR GREEN LINE CARS WERE PROPERLY DESIGNED FOR THE GREEN LINE INFRASTRUCTURE WILL COST THE AUTHORITY APPROXIMATELY $101 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL CONTRACT AND TRACK MAINTENANCE COSTS
The MBTA did not properly oversee the activities of its design and consultant engineers for the purchase of 100 Breda No. 8 Low-Floor Green Line cars initially projected to cost the Authority approximately $215 million dollars in February, 1995. Subsequently, due to design errors, change orders, consultant fees, car derailment problems requiring wheel modification costs, and increased track maintenance expenses, the projected costs to purchase these cars and also ensure against future derailments, will cost the Authority an additional $101 million over the expected 20 year life of these cars.
2. THE MBTA DID NOT ADEQUATELY PLAN AND TEST THE NO. 8 LOW-FLOOR CARS, THEREBY CONTRIBUTING TO A DERAILMENT FLAW THAT CAUSED A SIGNIFICANT DELAY SERVICING ITS DISABLED PATRONS
At the inception of the Breda No. 8 Low-Floor Green Line cars contract, the MBTA could not provide detailed track standards and conditions data necessary for Breda to properly design these low-floor cars to operate on the existing Green Line track infrastructure. This lack of detailed track information played a significant role in the dispute between the MBTA and Breda over whether the derailment issue was caused by car design or track conditions. Moreover, because of design delays at the outset of the contract, the MBTA improperly allowed Breda to combine and accelerate the testing and debugging of the prototype cars prior to authorizing full production of these vehicles by the contractor. These ill-advised decisions by the MBTA directly contributed to the faulty accepted design of these vehicles and their propensity to derail, and ultimately delayed providing their disabled patrons access to these vehicles.