Commuter rail is an important part of the transportation system in many cities and regions in our country, providing more than 420 million passenger trips in 2005. Although several of the largest commuter rail agencies hire their own employees, many agencies contract with other companies, including Amtrak, freight railroads, and private rail operators, to provide services that are critical to running the agencies' trains. These contracted services include providing crews to operate trains (train operations); maintenance of equipment (MOE), including maintenance of train cars and locomotives; dispatching train traffic; and maintenance of way (MOW), which involves maintaining the track, signals, and other track infrastructure. Commuter rail agencies can obtain these services by opening contracts to competition or through noncompetitive negotiations with a service provider. Congress asked us to provide information on the service arrangements between commuter rail agencies and other companies. Accordingly, we addressed the following questions: (1) How many currently active commuter rail service contracts were obtained through competitive and noncompetitive processes? (2) What differences, if any, are there between competitively and noncompetitively negotiated contracts?
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