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David Minton

DCTA votes to extend contract

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By Bj Lewis

Denton County Transportation Authority officials are looking at several more years of productive partnership with First Transit for bus maintenance and operations.

Board members voted last week to approve a new contract with an added position with First Transit, which has been working with the agency in the same capacity under a five-year contract with three one-year options, set to expire Sept. 30.

The new contract will be about $20,280 per month, with the total management contract fee for the seven-year term of $1.85 million plus the cost of payroll and employee benefits, which will be invoiced monthly based on actual costs incurred.

The original contract, which began in 2007, was for $630,900 total with $424,600 for renewal options.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to improve our efficiencies and serve the public,” said Kristina Brevard, vice president of marketing and communications.

The current contract provides the agency with a general manager to oversee bus operations and maintenance. All bus employees work under Transit Management of Denton County, a subsidiary created by First Transit.

Under the new contract, the montly costs will increase by about $8,000. In addition to a general manager, the new contract includes an assistant general manager as well as corporate support.

“The new contract also addresses a different scope of work than our current contract, which didn’t include customer service support of rail service,” Brevard said. “With the A-train as part of the DCTA transit service network, there is a great need for our customer service team to not only support the bus side of the operations but the rail side, too. The change in our agency and the services we provide are reflected in the new scope of work.”

The new contract will also include an option to extend it for three one-year terms.

DCTA staff put out a request for proposals Feb. 12 and received proposals back on March 17, with First Transit included as one of the proposers. Brevard said the tech review committee recommended First Transit as providing the best value, even with an increase in cost.

The length of the contract was a topic of much discussion during DCTA’s monthly board meeting last Thursday.

Denton County at-large representative David Kovatch was the dissenting vote. Though comfortable with staff’s recommendation to enter into a new contract with First Transit, he was uncomfortable with the length of the contract.

“It is industry standard and practice to have a seven- to 10-year contract. When you switch from one contractor to another, there is a huge transition that is hard on everybody,” Brevard said Monday.

She said there will be specific performance measures put in place that will monitor and address any issues that could arise during the contract, and DCTA officials will sit down with First Transit and the general managers each year to discuss performance metrics.

In other agenda items, it was noted that the A-train carried 49,467 passengers in the month of March. This reflects an overall increase in ridership of 12 percent for the month compared to March 2013. In addition, Connect ridership increased by 7.7 percent over the same period last year.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.