MTA pins bus ‘war room’ delays on contractor

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The MTA’s $90 million NASA-like “bus command center” remains unused nearly two-and-half years after construction completed because of ongoing failures of the company hired to set up the building’s radio system, officials said on Monday.

The officials claim Parsons Transportation Group has been “less than satisfactory” in its rollout of the radio system, preventing the MTA from moving its bus dispatchers to the new “war room,” which The Post reported on Sunday has suffered leaks, cracked glass and other structural deficiencies.

MTA officials now expect the radio system to be finished and workers to move into the new facility next year — about two years behind schedule and “$40 million to $100 million” overbudget.

The MTA's "bus command center" has gone unused years after the $90 million project was completed.
The MTA’s “bus command center” has gone unused years after the $90 million project was completed.

“We have been babysitting them for over a year to get them to do the right thought process, to get them to do the right organization, to the hit the project at the quality that it’s needed to do,” Deputy Chief Development Officer Mark Roche told MTA board members on Monday. “They never manned the project correctly. They never put the senior people on this project that they should have done to manage it correctly.”

The MTA and an outside auditor had found “lots of quality issues” in Parson’s work, Roche said — including “defective” cable harnesses that were installed on thousands of buses and must now be fixed.

MTA officials blamed the delays on Parsons Transportation Group which is responsible for the center's radio systems.
MTA officials blamed the delays on Parsons Transportation Group which is responsible for the center’s radio systems.
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“They went to install the 1,000 kits on some of the buses using their own staff — not professionally trained staff,” he said. “They tried to do it on the cheap in my book. They tried to do it with as minimal cost as possible by bringing people off the street and paying them to train, but it didn’t work the whole approach did not work.”

“Parsons, on this particular project, has clearly been worried about money from day one — and they’ve been strategizing not to do the best job for us, I think, from day,” he added. “I hate to say it, [but] we will probably hit more quality issues.”

Parsons did not immediately return a request for comment.

The MTA has nearly $400 million in contracts with the company dating back to 2016. State law allows the authority to disbar poor performing contractors.

The MTA now expects to complete the radio system and move into the center next year.
The MTA now expects to complete the radio system and move into the center next year.
Gregory P. Mango

Until the radio system is finished, the pricey “state-of-the-art” command center room will remain empty, Interim Transit President Craig Cipriano said. Speaking to board members on Monday, Cipriano confirmed the leaks and bugs reported by The Post — which he chocked up to “punch-list items” that occur “with any new building.”

“Early on, there were some gnats in the room, you know, basically we thought it was around, people leaving some food around. That’s been gone,” he said. “There’s some condensation issues around HVAC that we’re addressing again, the punch-list items with any new building.”

The center also reportedly has other issues that need to be fixed such as leaks.
The center also reportedly has other issues that need to be fixed such as leaks.

There was also a leak in the structure that has been fixed, Cipriano told The Post. He said security agents and the team that investigates bus crashes have moved in, and denied that any workers had refused to relocate.

“We’ve been working with our union partners to eventually transition to this new command center. there’s never been any pushback where they were not willing to move,” Cipriano said. “Early on yes there was some leaks, but there’s no leaks anymore.”

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