Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in California awarded Laidlaw Transit Services Inc., based in Overland Park, Kans., a five-year, $93 million contract. Under the deal, Laidlaw will provide all of OCTA’s small bus services including ACCESS ADA, special group and non-ADA services, commuter rail feeder (known as Stationlink) services and community fixed-route services. The new agreement makes the OCTA service Laidlaw’s largest client and operating contract, the company said.
Effective Nov. 1, 1999, Laidlaw Transit Services will carry approximately 1.8 million passengers annually in Orange County. It will operate nearly 280 paratransit and mid-size vehicles with support from more than 358 bus operators and 115 staff and maintenance personnel.
What is interesting about OCTA’s decision is that the work encompassed by this contract has traditionally been awarded to two contractors. However, Laidlaw's aggressive pricing resulted in it all the work in a single contract. The award, the outcome of an eight-to-two vote by the OCTA board, represents a shift in OCTA policy not to award all services to one contractor. Laidlaw received the highest scores on both ADA and non-ADA service proposals. Following a combined re-bid proposal, the board then agreed to reverse the no-single-contract policy and award the combined services to Laidlaw Transit Services based on a recommendation from the OCTA Planning and Operations Committee.
“[Laidlaw] also showed some guts to purchase property in Orange County to construct a maintenance facility,” one industry observer said. “Many of the bidders had problems finding property to operate this contract.”
The commitment is not small. As part of the new contract, Laidlaw Transit Services will provide a new $9 million state-of-the-art facility on 9.1 acres. It will house operations including management, maintenance, field supervision and scheduling/dispatching.
Laidlaw currently provides 70 percent of the service in the Orange County area for the OCTA using 160 vehicles with a staff of 225 operators and 21 management personnel.
“Receiving this contract is in large part due to the quality service the employees and management of the Laidlaw-Irvine location have provided the OCTA and they should be commended for their accomplishment,” said Bill Yates, senior vice president for Laidlaw Transit Services. “We look forward to a continued relationship with the authority and to providing them and their passengers with safe and reliable service.”