Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 | 3:54 p.m.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is urging a judge to stay out of the dispute over which company should operate the Las Vegas-area bus system.
First Transit Inc. of Cincinnati sued the RTC on Aug. 19 in Clark County District Court in hopes of breaking a logjam on the RTC board over whether it or incumbent Veolia Transportation Services Inc. of Lombard, Ill., will be awarded the contract. (First Transit currently operates the RTC’s paratransit bus service).
The disputed contract, valued at $83 million per year, is for three years but can be extended twice for two years each.
In its lawsuit, First Transit said the court needs to get involved because the current contract expires Sept. 25.
But Zev Kaplan, an attorney for the RTC, told Judge Rob Bare in a court filing this week that there’s no big rush to resolve the issue since the RTC can extend the current pact on a month-to-month basis through March.
"The RTC has exercised its rights under the existing contract to permit the extension, thereby affording the RTC the opportunity to take appropriate steps to reach a resolution of this matter," Kaplan wrote in a court filing. "The court should deny the request for a writ (court order) or injunctive relief as being neither required nor proper as an exercise of the court’s authority at this time."
Attorneys for Veolia, in the meantime, have filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit – a motion opposed by First Transit.
Veolia, in its filing, agreed with the RTC that the First Transit lawsuit is "undoubtedly premature" and argued Veolia "is a necessary party to these proceedings."
Veolia is represented in the lawsuit by the law firms Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial LLC and Kaempfer Crowell Renshaw Gronauer & Fiorentino.
First Transit attorneys with the firm Lionel Sawyer & Collins, however, said Veolia’s proposed intervention "would only create needless confusion, delay and increased costs."
They said that’s because the RTC is already defending itself against the lawsuit and -- as the losing bidder by some $50 million -- Veolia has no "legally cognizable interest and no viable grounds for intervention."
Hearings are set for next week on whether Bare will entertain Veolia’s intervention request as well as on First Transit’s request for a court order requiring the RTC to award it the contract.
During its meeting Thursday, with the litigation under way, the RTC board directed its staff to return at the next meeting with more information on how it can proceed and options for splitting the bus system into multiple smaller contracts.