The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) awarded a contract for the maintenance and operation of buses from its new Cinder Bed Road bus facility in Lorton, Va., in a move expected to control cost growth while delivering quality service and preserving current employees’ jobs.
The contract was awarded to Transdev, which operates transit services in the region for Prince George’s County and Loudoun County, as well as in other markets including Detroit, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. The contract, which is expected to add 140 new jobs, includes a mobilization period prior to the facility opening in December, three base years, and two one-year options. The contract is valued at $89 million including the two option years.
“To preserve current service levels for customers and protect jobs for our existing employees, WMATA is working to contain cost growth,” said GM/CEO Paul Wiedefeld. “This is a step toward keeping Metro affordable for riders, while helping to meet the legal mandate to hold subsidy growth for operating trains and buses for taxpayers at three percent.”
More than 70% of WMATA’s operating budget pays for labor costs. The contract will save Metro $15 million over the next five years, without eliminating current union-represented employees. The savings are the result of management efficiencies, and by avoiding additional pension and retirement benefits associated with hiring new employees. Metro’s current unfunded pension and retiree benefits liability is $2.8 billion.
Since 2010, the region’s share to operate trains and buses has grown about 8% annually, while farebox revenues remained flat. WMATA’s financial plan to “Keep Metro Safe, Reliable, and Affordable” aims to hold costs down through business efficiencies and new policies, all while maintaining service quality.
Ten bidders expressed interest in WMATA’s solicitation for the work, and five submitted proposals. The agency’s largest Union, ATU-Local 689, submitted a proposal that could not be considered because it failed to meet the authority’s public procurement requirements.
To ensure safe and reliable service for customers, the Cinder Bed Road facility contract includes 15 key performance metrics that will be used to measure TransDev’s performance. The agreement includes incentives for meeting or exceeding the metrics and consequences for falling short. These include measurements for on-time performance, vehicle cleanliness, customer comfort, ADA equipment availability, and preventive maintenance compliance.