Yesterday, Keolis Commuter Services (KCS) officially took over the operation and maintenance of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's 13 commuter rail lines with a pledge to increase on-time performance and improve safety, cleanliness and customer service.
In January, Keolis Commuter Services, part of Keolis North America, won a highly competitive bid for the $2.6 billion, eight-year contract to operate MBTA's commuter rail service, which is the fifth busiest in the nation.
"This is a momentous day for Keolis, our passengers and the communities we will serve,” said Eric Asselin, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Keolis North America. "From customer service to on-time performance, we pride ourselves in how we are always ‘thinking like a passenger’ in everything we do. With the commitment of our employees and the input of our passengers, we are dedicated to making one of the nation’s preeminent commuter rail services even better.”
Keolis officials said passengers will begin to see changes designed to improve the passenger experience almost immediately, among them the launch of a staffed customer service centre that would be open seven days a week to provide assistance to customers. Passengers will also be encouraged to share suggestions or concerns via a dedicated customer service Twitter account @MBTA_CR and on Facebook.
Other improvements will include freshly cleaned trains and stations, new signage, and repairs to damaged seats. New pocket timetables, featuring larger, easier-to-read system maps, will be distributed at the major stations. Keolis will also be introducing the first official MBTA Commuter Rail app which is designed to make it easier for passengers to plan their journey. The first version of the app was released yesterday. An enhanced version will be released this autumn and will provide the first real-time information about commuter rail travel times, a place to register lost or found items in trains and stations and other features designed to enhance the passenger experience.
The MBTA is the fifth-busiest rail system in the U.S., serving 127,000 passengers daily with 13 lines, 138 stations, and 500 daily trains.