Baker: ‘Acts of God’ justify fine waivers for Keolis.

BakerTheUnionBreakerVia Commonwealth Magazine.

By Jack Sullivan.

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER said waiving the fines against Keolis for “acts of God” during the brutal winter of 2015 was the right thing to do but insisted the commuter rail operator has been held to answer for shoddy performance over the past year and half and will continue to be fined if the late trains continue.

The Boston Globe reported over the weekend that MBTA officials quietly forgave almost half the $1.7 million in fines levied against Keolis in February and March of last year. But Baker said after review, the fines that were waived were a result of circumstances beyond the rail company’s control, which is allowed by the contract language. He added Keolis paid more than $6 million in fines for failing to meet on-time goals and they won’t be getting any of that back.

“It’s pretty hard to argue the winter of 2015 wasn’t an act of God,” Baker said of the record-breaking snowfall. “I have no intention, nor does the MBTA, of waiving any of those fines associated with on-time performance. They paid those fines and they should have… The fines associated with some of the more technical stuff that were tied more directly with the issues around the weather, I think the T made the right decision.”

The Globe had reported that the T absolved Keolis of the fines in November of last year but Baker said the decision was actually made and relayed to company officials seven months earlier, in May of last year, “before we had a Fiscal and Management Control Board.” Baker said the letter in the fall that the Globe was referring to merely made note of the decision to earlier forgive the $839,000 fine. But, he added, with the fiscal control board in place, the process of measuring performance and assessing penalties has been and will be much more consistent and evenly carried out.

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