D.C. Metro shifts paratransit contract model to improve service quality

Posted on March 5, 2013

WMATA photo by Larry Levine
WMATA photo by Larry Levine

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) awarded contracts totalling $86 million to five vendors to provide paratransit service. The contracts signal the use of a new business model by Metro to improve service quality.

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 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% 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.

RELATED ARTICLE: Read our 2012 Paratransit Survey, here.

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