Austin, Texas-based Capital Metro will implement a new labor structure this week that will streamline operations, save an estimated $33 million over the next seven years and preserve the quality of life for bargaining employees.
The move is the latest of a two-year string of improvements under the leadership of the board of directors and President/CEO Linda S. Watson.
Following a competitive procurement process, McDonald Transit was selected to assume responsibility for the fixed-route bus operations and maintenance, formerly provided by StarTran Inc. MV Transportation was selected to assume the MetroAccess operations.
Both assumed their new roles over the weekend. Comprehensive planning and coordination between Capital Metro and the new contractors has ensured a smooth transition that will be seamless to the public.
Under the direction of state Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), Capital Metro underwent a Texas Sunset Commission review in 2010 that outlined recommendations for improvement in four key areas: finance, labor, rail, and governance/public engagement.
The resulting legislation, SB650, adopted by the 82nd Texas Legislature, mandated the labor structure changes, in addition to other improvements.
With the completion of the labor transition, Capital Metro will have met or exceeded all but one of the requirements set forth by the Sunset Commission. The remaining requirement involves increasing cash reserves to an amount equal to two months of operating expenditures, roughly $30 million, by 2016. Capital Metro is on track to meet that goal.
Over the last two years, the agency has improved its financial health, instituted a number of improvements to its rail system and adopted long-range planning documents, such as the five-year capital improvement plan and strategic plan, to increase its accountability.
The agency also posts detailed financial information on its website, and for these transparency efforts, earned “Gold” certificates from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in 2010 and 2011. This was the first time a transit agency had ever received the award.