City Government

Boise Trains Not Tracking Well In Boston

Back in 2008 Boise’s Mayor Dave Bieter and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo were “allll aboard” using their political clout to force the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to purchase commuter locomotives from Motive Power.

Turns out it is difficult to get the trains to leave the station with the faulty Boise-built engines. Here in-part is how the BOSTON GLOBE reported on transit problems:

“The current problems are part of a pattern of troubled purchases by the MBTA. Before Keolis became the commuter rail provider in 2014, the MBTA purchased the locomotives for nearly $222 million from Idaho-based Motive Power Inc., which had partnered with General Electric to make the motors. The two companies had not worked together before, according to the MBTA’s chief operating officer Jeffrey Gonneville.

As soon as the locomotives were delivered, they were sidelined for months because of faulty bearings. MBTA officials say the new locomotives are more reliable than the older ones in its fleet, but by February 2016, nearly every locomotive had been delayed because of mechanical failures, operator errors, or other issues.

In addition, eight locomotives have experienced failures with turbochargers, which blow fresh air into the engines. The manufacturer has agreed to replace the part across the fleet. The manufacturer is already replacing four other pieces of equipment, including software for the General Electric engine and battery chargers.”

The GUARDIAN posted details of the maneuvers which essentially kept a Spanish firm from having a shot at building the locomotives at a plant they planned to build in Kentucky. It was part of a “buy America” requirement for federal transit funds. Ironically, the operator of the system is now a French company.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Brian Vermilion
    Apr 6, 2017, 8:13 pm

    What is the name of the French company?

    EDITOR NOTE–French firm is KEOLIS. There is also a French firm based in Ohio contracting to run the buses in Boise, can you provide that ?

    UPDATE: They call themselves Transdev now. There are so many layers of bureaucracy running the bus operation. The city wants nothing to do with it so they farmed it out years ago. Valleyride is the authority, PTM is the management company, there is also Go-Ride that is yet another branch of it. There is also a “Harvest ride” or something to that effect. It’s all a shell game with funding.

  2. Kent Goldthorpe
    Apr 7, 2017, 6:17 am

    Two words made famous by John Glen; “Low Bidder”. To heck with the French and Spanish, buying local ifs important but so is pride of workmanship, part of good old American know how.

  3. Concerned Neighbor
    Apr 7, 2017, 6:28 am

    So there have been 3 repairs. For an engine that size and complexity those are minor. “Months” is a greater concern. However, are things running smoothly now? If so then great, but if there are ongoing issues then no.

    The USA imports $750 BILLION more than it exports every year, mainly due to currency manipulation. Buy America is just the start of what we need for balance.

  4. KEOLIS is a French company 70% owned by SNCF – the French national rail system. It is not part of Veolia (Transdev). In 2014 KEOLIS won the Boston rail operating contract from Veolia. Seems rail riders in Boston are getting really Teed about their rail service.

    PTM (Professional Transit Management), a unit of Transdev operates the Boise bus system but not the Nampa – Caldwell buses. Current Boise bus ridership is at 1980 levels (Source: VRT) despite service increases and a doubling of the population. The current PTM operating contract ends later this year.

    Vossloh is actually a German rail services provider and locomotive builder. They have operations in Spain and may have been working with the Spanish national railways back in 2008 on a high speed locomotive.

    The Motive Power units in Boston were designed to be state of the art, high speed rail(by U.S. standards)locomotives. Only 40 were built. All went to Boston. Cost per locomotive – about $ 5.5 million each. Kind of reminds me of the 1994 MK5000C fiasco.

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