Baker: Privatized MBA bus routes not a done deal

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Written by Andy Metzger

BOSTON — Hoping for cooperation with labor, Gov. Charlie Baker said that if the MBTA does not receive worthwhile bids to run bus routes the proposed privatization would not happen.

Freed temporarily from the outsourcing restrictions imposed by the Pacheco law, the T has solicited feedback from the private bus industry on outsourcing early-morning weekend routes, long-distance commuter routes and routes that are less used by the riding public.

“If we don’t get any good responses, obviously we won’t do anything with it,” Baker said on Nightside with Dan Rea on Wednesday. He reiterated the T’s intention to not lay anyone off if routes are privatized, but rather reassign buses and drivers to other routes where they are needed.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who joined Baker for a joint appearance on the radio Wednesday evening after a joint appearance at a POLITICO breakfast Wednesday morning, predicted the Boston Carmen’s Union will want to represent any drivers hired through privatization.

“How do they have the opportunity to represent those drivers?” Walsh said, cautioning that he had not spoken to the union, but predicting that would be a question for the governor. Walsh also anticipated an opportunity to work with the union on reforms to the use by MBTA workers of sick time and family and medical leave.

“I want everybody rowing in the same direction on this one,” Baker replied.

The union has strenuously argued against privatization and strongly opposed another effort that has not passed into law, which would grant MBTA overseers the ability to reject an arbitration award with a labor organization.

Baker noted the union has acknowledged some problems with the current system of implementing the Family and Medical Leave Act and supported the establishment of an MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board.