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Bus deal gets OK from City Council

Two members vote against three-year, $5.26-million BurbankBus plan, citing higher price tag than the previous one.

April 30, 2008|By Jeremy Oberstein

CITY HALL — The council gave the green light to a three-year deal with McDonald Transit Associates Inc. to operate and maintain BurbankBus, though the agreement is about $1 million more than the city’s previous contract.

The deal was opposed by Councilmen Gary Bric and David Gordon, who said the price tag of $5.26 million for three years was too high. But the council’s 3-2 decision to approve the deal was exemplified by Councilwoman Anja Reinke’s final statement before the vote: “I was a little squeamish about the price difference, but I guess it’s justified here.”

The contract with McDonald Transit is about $300,000 more per year than with Southland Transit, which had been operating BurbankBus since 2002, but officials said the price should not stand in the way of approval.

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“It’s a significant difference, and price is an important component, but it’s not the sole thing,” said Jim Moore, managing partner of the public transportation consulting firm Moore & Associates. “When I looked at these numbers . . . I found they are within the range of what I consider to be acceptable.”

Moore’s explanation was enough to sway Reinke, who said she had intended to vote against the measure.

Opposition to the deal stemmed, in part, from the anticipated depletion of Proposition C funds in fiscal year 2012-13, and the fact that the bus system’s current costs exceed the Proposition C revenues received each year, according to city staff reports.

Much of the recent cost overruns can be attributed to issues arising from vehicle maintenance and vehicle warranties, according to Chris Dasté, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.

But the switch could have long-term benefits, as officials cited a number of Southland Transit shortcomings, including missed bus trips and customer complaints, in their decision to seek new operators for BurbankBus, which began operating in 2002.

The bus system runs five routes with 14 vehicles and serves about 30,000 riders each month, Dastés said.

City officials, with the help of Moore & Associates, looked at a series of factors, including contract price and rider satisfaction, in their decision to award McDonald’s Transit the contract.

“Based on the city’s commitment to provide a quality, consistent, on-time service to its transit customers, the evaluation committee and the Transit Services Task Force are confident McDonald Transit’s proposal offers the greatest value to the city and its residents,” Dasté said.


 JEREMY OBERSTEIN covers City Hall and public safety. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at jeremy.oberstein@ latimes.com.

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