One month after the SEPTA Board awarded the Silverliner V contract - which was rescinded last week amid a lawsuit and some very angry board members - the board awarded two paving contracts on the Regional Rail division which have also fallen under controversy. JMG Construction, a Pottstown based firm, filed a protest regarding the awarding of two separate contracts for "paving services for various Railroad Division parking lots" to G. Antonini Construction - one contract covers "lots throughout the five-county service area" for a two-year period; the second deals with parking lots "within the north and south regions of SEPTA's station operations" for 1 year. I'm guessing the second contract deals with Delaware and New Jersey stations, but don't quote me on it.
The attorney for JMG claimed that despite being the lowest responsible bidder, SEPTA rejected their bids and referred to an investigation by the US Attorney's office which was not elaborated upon. JMG claimed that SEPTA staff had gone to the US Attorney's office before the company could meet with the authority's Inspector General's office. SEPTA's Shyster-in-Chief Nicholas Staffeiri responded - again without elaborating - that JMG was not a responsible bidder. After some back and forth, Don Pasquale instructed staff to defer the "authorization to proceed" until JMG's protests could be heard, however the two items were voted upon as part of the consent calender.
And that wasn't the only fireworks at today's rubber-stamp session of the SEPTA Board.
Tom Dorricott of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen reported the latest piece of bad news on the on-time performance front. After coming close to reaching a 90 percent on-time rating for January, on-time performance on Regional Rail returned to normal - 85 percent. Dorricott's address to the board was fairly strong, given how things had gone from bad to mediocre to worse.
According to SEPTA's own on-time records, the cause of 704 out of the 2,723 trains delayed was "travel" - including "Amtrak travel" - which "the BLET feels that SEPTA is using ... as a euphemism for 'we don't know why the train was delayed.'"
More comments from the BLET - including Dorricott's address to the board - will be posted within a matter of days, time permitting.
Immediately following the report of the Shyster-in-Chief, everyone at the board meeting awaited Fearless Leader's monthly report. And here it is, in its entirety:
"I have nothing to report this month."
Well, after calling out Inquirer reporter Jere Downs earlier this week (though not mentioning Downs by name), it's rather surprising that Fearless Leader would have nothing to report this month (and yes, I'm being a little scarcastic).
On a related note, I did address the board on a subject in which SEPTA's senior management needs to work on - COMMUNICATION. Based on last week's events, that appears to be a concept foreign within SEPTA, though fortunately for Fearless Leader, I didn't go that route. And she better be lucky, because I probably would've read her the riot act.
The issues that I raised was the poor internal communication between the people who recieve detour information from the municipalities and the garages (the October fiasco in which Red Arrow failed to warn its drivers about the Halloween parade detours, but Frontier did). I told the board about my conversation with West Chester's borough manager in which he insisted that West Chester Police were notifiying SEPTA (and given SEPTA's track record recently, I'd be inclined to believe him rather than Fearless Leader - or about 90 percent of the rotating resumes at 1234 Market; in hindsight, I should've said that too, but that's another story).
Also raised by your blogmaster was the way SEPTA informs the public about schedule changes. The press releases issued by the Ministry of Mis-Information and the page in the Metro paper always seem to differ. I also took SEPTA to task over the way they brushed off recent evening service reductions on the 92 and 133 as "minor schedule changes." Believe me, eliminating any trips on a line which normally has 60 minute headways is not a "minor schedule change."
But, other than that, it was a fairly boring "rubber-stamp" session.