The city is looking to replace the current operator of its transit system. Mayor Sandy Stimpson has asked the Mobile City Council to consider a $396,215 contract with First Transit Inc. for three years.
City spokesman George Talbot said the administration was impressed with the company’s work in Montgomery in rejuvenating the capital city’s transit system.
“They ran it more efficiently and also improved service and route efficiency,” Talbot said. “They’ll bring new eyes and creativity to the table.”
First Transit has proposed a plan to improve ridership in Mobile through increased customer satisfaction and better routing, according to a statement. The cost to run the system will decrease through the contract from $72.67 per hour to $48.41 per hour, according to the statement.
Council Vice President Levon Manzie has called a public safety committee meeting to discuss the contract. Councilman Joel Daves said the transportation committee would meet at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, to discuss the contract.
Due to budget cuts in April 2016, the council voted on a McDonald Transit recommendation to cut most of the WAVE routes operating outside of the city.
During the 2016 fiscal year budget process in September 2015, the City Council cut more than $700,000 from its general fund transfer to WAVE. Before the cut, the city was paying more than $6 million of the system’s $10 million budget; the other $4 million came from federal grant funds.
Among several other routes, the cuts did away with a bus to Eight Mile as well as other areas beyond the federally funded transfer hub in downtown Prichard. A bus to Chickasaw and a bus to Tillman’s Corner were also eliminated. The hours other buses run were also changed.
The new contract would pay for one employee for three years and come with two one-year renewal options, said Paul Wesch, executive director of finance. The contract would also come with use of employees in Transit First’s corporate office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In other business, during a pre-conference meeting the council debated the merits of entering into two separate contracts to allow exclusive rights for a vendor to use concession stands at Sage-Herndon and Medal of Honor parks. The contracts were held over by council rules, but at least two members seemed skeptical.
The contracts would pay the city $300 per month, but utilities such as water and power would be provided to the vendors. Richardson said he didn’t think $300 per month would cover the utility costs. Manzie said he would not support it as written, given the importance of a free market. He said it’s important to allow food trucks and others who spend money on business licenses and pay taxes to have an even playing field.
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