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Commuter rail firm’s Mideast ties should disqualify it from T contract

BESTOWING A “fat long-term contract” on the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad essentially privatizes the commuter rail system and would indeed be “hard to swallow,” as the Globe points out (“Longer contract would ease woes of T’s commuter rail,” Editorial, Jan. 4).

After the MBTA board said that as many as 25 companies would be competing for the contract, it is shocking that only MBCR and one other company are in the running. Other firms reportedly perceived that MBCR had the inside track and dropped out. Massachusetts commuters and taxpayers deserve better.

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Not only does MBCR have a poor record of performance and suspect financial dealings over the past decade, but its primary stakeholder — the French multinational Veolia — has been linked to violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, where its subsidiaries run bus lines servicing illegal Israeli settlements. Veolia’s West Bank activity has made it the target of an international campaign that has cost it many lost contracts.

The MBTA board should ensure that in the bidding process, there be no insider deals at taxpayers’ expense and no further dealings with a corporation that is complicit in human rights violations.

Nancy Murray

Cambridge

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