Supervisors seek new bus contract bids, with county-run option in play

Source: Steve Schultze, Journal Sentinel, March 5, 2014

Milwaukee County supervisors on Wednesday called on the county to quickly seek a new round of bids for operation of the Milwaukee County Transit System. But that process could take a year or more and require extending the contract with the current management firm, Milwaukee Transport Services…. Complicating the issue further: an April 1 deadline that requires the county to prepare to have the county run the transit system with its own employees. The county’s transportation staff should adopt a two-prong strategy of rebidding the contract, but also planning for a possible “insourcing” of the service, supervisors said….

Editorial: Milwaukee County should reopen bids soon to find a transit operator
Source: Editorial, Journal Sentinel, February 28, 2014

…..Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele told us Wednesday he’ll be working on several options to ensure that bus service in Milwaukee County stays up and running once the current contract with Milwaukee Transport Services expires at the end of the year. Still burning from a County Board panel’s rejection of the last bidding process, which saw the contract to run the transit system awarded to Dallas-based MV Transportation, Abele told us, “I will work as hard as I can” to make sure that service isn’t interrupted, and to provide quality service at a reasonable price. The panel said the bidding process was flawed and arbitrary. Abele told us he is considering appealing the panel’s decision, which means going to court, but that he also will issue a new bidding process and start working on plans to move the service under direct county supervision as required by a county resolution. The resolution says that if the county does not have a contract by April 1, the county should start the process of moving it in-house. … For their part, supervisors on the appeals panel that rejected the award to MV Transportation essentially didn’t buy MV’s low bid. The award was appealed to the panel by two of the losing bidders, MTS and Veolia Transportation, which argued to the panel that MV’s bid was unrealistically low and that MV might return to the county for more money once it had been awarded the contract. …

Milwaukee County taxpayers may be stuck with $8 million bill from transit snafu
Source: Gitte Laasby, Journal Sentinel, March 25, 2013

Taxpayers are likely stuck paying more than $8 million too much over the next three years for paratransit services under two emergency contract extensions. As the Journal Sentinel reported last week, Milwaukee Transport Services signed the contracts in October on behalf of the Milwaukee County Transit System after bad planning, legal challenges over a botched signature and a tight timeline made it impossible to accept a “best value” bid that was $8.4 million cheaper than the emergency extensions. Angry about the lost savings, county officials are exploring whether they can get out of the contracts. But while the potential savings are obvious, ways to get them are not…The most expensive three-year emergency contract pays Transit Express $24.7 million to serve the north side. That’s $2.2 million to $4.5 million more than what other bidders had offered to do the job, bid documents show…. The other three-year emergency contract pays more than $15.5 million to First Transit for serving the south side. That contract, too, can be canceled through default or failure to perform. But it may also be canceled “for convenience” if the county pays $150,000 in damages….