Las Vegas Sun

November 23, 2014

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RTC selects companies to move forward in competition for bus contracts

A bus transportation company that sued the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada after a nine-month contract stalemate failed to make the cut when the RTC rebid the contract with a revamped process.

Cincinnati-based First Transit, the original winning bidder when a seven-year contract was first approved by the RTC board in 2011, won’t be moving on to the next step of the process to determine which two transit companies will operate and maintain fixed-route bus service in the Las Vegas Valley.

As part of a court settlement with First Transit, the RTC agreed last year that it would use two contractors. The RTC is splitting service between two geographic zones, but customers should see no differences in operations.

What’s more important to riders is that the split is intended to head off a rapid rise in fares and the elimination of some routes.

The RTC board today unanimously approved advancing three companies to the next evaluation phase.

First Transit was eliminated in the first phase of a two-step, best-value request for proposals.

The first phase dealt with 11 criteria based on technical qualifications, and applicants’ proposals had to score within 90 percent of the highest ranked applicant to move on. Applicants that successfully met the threshold go to the second step, which involves pricing and a more detailed review of technical qualifications.

First Transit finished fourth among five applicants in an evaluation of the north geographic zone and third among four in the southern zone.

Moving on to the second evaluation are Lombard, Ill.-based Veolia Transportation, the current operator, and Keolis Transit America, Los Angeles, for the north and south operations, and Dallas-based MV Transportation for the northern operation.

Three internal and three external experts performed the evaluations instead of an all-internal group used in the previous process.

The finalists have until Dec. 13 to submit bids in the second phase, which will be independent of the first phase. The RTC board is expected to award bids at its February meeting, and the contract will begin in July.

The RTC board initially approved the First Transit contract, which was about $50 million less over seven years than Veolia’s initial proposal. But after legal questions were raised, the board rescinded the vote and was deadlocked 4-4 on taking any other action.

That’s when First Transit sued the RTC, asking a District Court judge to order the board to reach a decision.

In the settlement, First Transit ended its suit, the RTC split the contract and First Transit was allowed to run a paratransit operation for two more years.

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