LYNN — More than 250 people could lose their jobs after the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority didn’t award a new contract to Greater Lynn Senior Services, which has provided service for The RIDE for decades.
On Monday, the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board opted not to award the 2020 RIDE contract to GLSS, one of three vendors contracted by the agency that provides drivers for the paratransit service, which transports many seniors and others with disabilities to essential services such as grocery stores and doctors’ offices.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said Joe Benevento, president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters 42 (IBT42), the union that represents more than 250 GLSS drivers. “My biggest concern are jobs for our members. That’s our biggest concern now, is keeping these people employed.”
Benevento said he hopes that the new vendor selected to replace GLSS, Dallas, Texas-based MV Transportation, follows through on a recommendation from the MBTA and employs the existing Teamsters Local 42 drivers.
“MV Transportation is reaching out to GLSS to hire drivers who currently work for GLSS,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
The MBTA board voted to award a new five-year contract to its two other long-term providers, National Express Transit and Veterans Transportation Service. The new vendor selected, MV Transportation, describes itself as the largest privately-owned passenger transportation contracting firm in the United States.
GLSS executives declined an interview, but in a statement the company said the news was “very disappointing.” The company’s contract expires Dec. 31, but the T plans to pick up an option to extend the agreement past that date to help with the transition, according to Pesaturo.
“We are nonetheless extremely proud of our paratransit service to the community these past decades and remain committed to supporting community inclusion and other critical ADA principles in whatever ways possible,” reads the GLSS statement.
“We will also continue paratransit operations at full throttle throughout the remainder of our current contract. Our transportation department remains a vital part of GLSS as we go forward in realizing our mission of promoting community livability. Towards that end, we will be pursuing new and different opportunities to ensure that our consumers’ mobility needs are fully met,” the statement reads.
Pesaturo said the GLSS contract bid was rejected because of its “considerably lower technical score” relative to the other three companies and almost non-existent price-savings.
Service will be provided between the three selected RIDE vendors on a 50/30/20 percent split, for National Express Transit, MV Transportation and Veterans Transportation Service respectively. The contracted cost to the MBTA between the three vendors annually will be about $94.9 million according to an MBTA presentation.
The MBTA’s decision to not renew its RIDE contract with GLSS is another blow for the nonprofit, which has been under fire from Lynn’s seniors, specifically those who belong to Massachusetts Senior Action, for months.
Starting in early August, seniors protested each week outside GLSS headquarters, calling for the organization’s CEO Paul Crowley to step down, following a complaint that he allegedly harassed one of the seniors. Two weeks ago, GLSS announced Crowley was taking a three-month leave of absence.
Earlier this month, Mayor Thomas M. McGee said the city will take over management of the Lynn Senior Center from GLSS, which will include a move to a new facility.
Last January, Teamsters Local 42 threatened to strike if a fair contract couldn’t be reached with GLSS, with membership arguing its wages were lower than the other two contracted MBTA vendors. An agreement was eventually reached.