Metro awards new contracts for paratransit services
Shift in business model will improve service quality
Metro announced today that it is awarding contracts to five vendors who will provide its specialized MetroAccess transportation service for people with disabilities for a total of $86 million dollars annually.
Using a new business model that created three categories for proposals, the contracts are within Metro’s current budget, and will be awarded to Veolia Transportation ($36.46 million), First Transit ($22.07 million), and Diamond Transportation ($9.79 million) for service delivery; to MV Transportation ($14.61 million) for managing the MetroAccess Call Center; and to MTM ($2.55 million) for management of an independent quality assurance function. All contract awards will be for five years, with a renewal option for an additional five years.
“The winners in this process are our customers who will receive services from companies that are being held to even stricter performance standards for reliability,” said General Manager Richard Sarles. “I want to thank the Accessibility Advisory Committee for its assistance in developing higher standards that our new contractors are required to meet.”
The contracts provide a new approach for determining when a paratransit vehicle is “late," as the contractor managing the scheduling and dispatching functions will share performance incentives and disincentives with the contractors delivering the service to customers. Additionally, disincentives for “excessive” lateness are strengthened in the new contracts. Trips that are delivered 20 minutes past the scheduled arrival time trigger the disincentive versus the previous standard of 30 minutes. The contracts also provide stronger disincentives for service that drops below 90 percent on-time, as well as incentives for service providers that exceed reliability standards. To ensure better compliance with customer service standards, Metro will employ a separate contractor to monitor quality assurance from the companies delivering service.
The contract awards mark the conclusion of a competitive process, which began with the issuance of a request for proposals in June 2012. The proposals were judged on a “best value” basis, meaning that both technical merit and price were considered, but with the greater emphasis on quality. All successful proposers will have local management for their portion of the contracted service.
In addition to the service contracts, Metro will continue to fund vehicles, fuel, and insurance to provide paratransit service at a total cost of approximately $50 per passenger. Metro Transit Police will conduct fingerprint criminal background checks on all customer facing employees of the five contractors. Metro’s Access Services staff will manage the contracts, conducting fleet inspections, monitoring service on the street, and managing technology and scheduling efficiencies.
“The transition to new contractors will be relatively seamless for our customers,” said AGM for Access Services Christian T. Kent. “We are not changing our operating policies, and the information and phone numbers in our Customer Guide will remain the same. Also, the management of our Call Center and client data remains with our experienced current provider. The real difference will be in the stronger resources that are being dedicated for improvement of service, and we will be holding our contractors to even higher standards of performance and care for our customers.”
The new contractors for service delivery already provide paratransit services in areas across the U.S. Veolia Transportation operates paratransit service in 50 locations across North America, including Baltimore, Seattle, and Kansas City. First Transit operates the D.C. Circulator and in 37 locations, including New Jersey, Chicago, Jacksonville, and Columbus, Ohio. Diamond Transportation is a local firm that has provided MetroAccess service since its inception in 1994.
News release issued at 3:10 pm, March 1, 2013.