Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey was general manager of MBCR before taking over the top position at the MBTA. Davey's "meet the general manager" activity of approaching passengers on platforms originated at MBCR, Farmelant said.
Regan said Davey had recused himself from the bidding process because of his previous employment at MBCR, which raised questions for Regan about how the process would be handled.
"One of the questions I ask is who's signing this contract," Regan said. "It's a very expensive contract."
MBCR has done "a pretty good job" considering the "age and condition of the system," Regan said.
A report last September by the advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts found that more than half of the commuter rail's locomotives date back to the 1970s and "nearly all are at or past the manufacturer's recommended lifespan of 25 years."
The system includes 133 stations carrying more than 144,000 passengers over tracks controlled by the MBTA and three other, private railway companies, according to a state report and Farmelant.