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MBTA Reduces $839,000 In Fines From 2015 Winter Storm Failures

BOSTON (CBS) -- The MBTA has quietly agreed to waive $839,000 of the $1.7 million in penalties leveled against the company that operates the Commuter Rail system for poor performance in 2015.

Keolis, the Commuter Rail operator, blamed the weather for its sub-par performance in the winter of 2015. Thousands of commuters were left stranded or running late during that brutal winter.

But State Sen. Jamie Eldridge told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe he doesn't want to hear excuses from Keolis.

"While I recognize it was a very unique storm, the reality is that our Commuter Rail system run by Keolis has been under-performing since Keolis first took the contract," he said.

The MBTA said there's a stipulation in the contract that allows them to waive penalties when there are unforeseeable circumstances.

"I was very surprised there was even a provision for the Baker administration to forgive those fines," Sen. Eldridge said.

Keolis spokesperson Leslie Aun told WBZ-TV the company was penalized $6.6 million for the fiscal year period that included February and March 2015.

The company already paid penalties for chronically late trains, but that the company been forgiven for other violations, including dirty trains. The spokesperson said they did not receive any relief on time performance-related fines.

The company says the forgiven fines regarded maintenance issues, and that the MBTA agreed to waive them amid evidence that maintenance workers were pulled from their regular jobs to help shovel off tracks and shorten delays.

Sen. Eldridge believes Keolis needs to be held accountable, and doesn't understand why transit officials made the agreement.

"Keolis promised to provide a certain level of service, and they didn't provide it," he said. "They should pay those fines, that's the contract."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe reports

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