The parish bus system is taking another shot at awarding a program management contract to a private transit management firm after its first attempt was tossed because of concerns the process was tainted by the bus board’s involvement.
The Capital Area Transit System is seeking a program manager for at least two years to provide management support and guidance as the agency expands its service and changes its routes, per the promises made in the 2012 tax election. The contract is estimated to cost between $1.2 million and $1.4 million, according to CATS CEO Bob Mirabito.
On Wednesday, two firms — MV Transit and Reliant Transportation — will make their presentations in the hopes of winning the contract. But two other well known transit management firms who were initially vying for the contract are now out of the running.
Veolia Transportation, the company that runs New Orleans Regional Transportation Authority, was disqualified from consideration because one of its subcontractors failed to submit required certifications.
When CATS attempted to award the contract in July, Veolia came in second place behind local engineering firm SJB Group. SJB Group has no transportation management experience, and many officials and local transit advocates criticized the selection process which was dominated by board members. One member of the first selection committee gave each firm that applied a zero score in a category except for SJB, causing many to question whether the scales were purposefully being tilited in SJB Group’s favor. The board opted to start the selection process over from scratch without board members.
SJB Group didn’t apply as the main contractor for the management contract the second time, but they were listed as a subcontractor to First Transit.
First Transit, which runs LSU’s Tiger Trails bus system, did not apply the first time. After initially submitting a proposal for the most recent contract, First Transit withdrew its name from consideration.
Stephanie Creech, a spokeswoman for First Transit, declined to say why the company withdrew.
“It’s a matter of policy that we don’t discuss bids in the public domain,” Creech said.
Dick Alexander, the senior vice president of business development for Veolia, said their subcontractor failed to submit a form that was required by CATS, however it was not required by Federal Transit Authority rules. He said the form was not required during the first process, which is why they missed it.
According to CATS’ Request for Proposals, CATS has the authority to waive minor irregularities if it’s to the benefit of CATS.
“We don’t think eliminating 50 percent of the competition is a benefit to CATS,” Alexander said. “We asked the CEO if he’d waive our minor irregularities, but he said no...We’re disappointed because we think we could have helped CATS in a big way.”
Mirabito said he contacted FTA after he learned of Veolia’s omission and was advised that they could not be considered.
Reliant Transportation currently holds a contract with CATS to provide federally required door-to-door service for disabled riders.
In July, SJB Group, Veolia, MV Transportation and URS Corporation applied for the contract.
Mirabito said he’d like to award the contract by the end of the year.