Bus management company details plan

Thursday, May 5, 2011 6:05 PM
Last updated 9:41 PM
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Mobility Transit LLC will cause "a cultural change" at Augusta Public Transit if the company is allowed to take over its management, Mobility founder Kevin Adams described to Augusta commissioners Thursday.

Mobility, invited to a work session Thursday, was the second-lowest bidder and the top pick made by a city selection committee that included Transit Director Heyward Johnson.

"We will bring operating rules and regulations and discipline. We will ensure that the vehicles are always clean, that they run on time," Adams said.

The contractor would run the bus system for a fixed guaranteed cost that would be $400,000 less than the approximately $5 million annually the city currently spends on the bus system. Adams said his company could also improve service without increasing costs by reorganizing where routes run.

“We’ll also share any cost savings that may come up with you. That can go toward an increase in service or a reduction in price,” Adams said.

If the commission approves Mobility's five-year proposal, city transit employees will become Mobility employees, see their pensions replaced by a 401(k) and be retained at existing wages for two years provided they meet Mobility's safety and customer service standards, he said.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said one of riders' two biggest complaints is the lack of "cross-town mobility," or routes that don't begin and end downtown.

Adams said Mobility had experience in redesigning transit services, but that the company's "bid and proposal are based on the current operating schedule."

Subject to approval by the commission, expanding service would cost extra, he said.

Commissioner Bill Lockett questioned how Mobility will satisfy complaints about the service not running on time without expanding it.

Adams said by correcting runtimes and schedules, he'd made transit systems to run on time in Jackson, Miss., and in Columbia, S.C.

Commissioner Johnny Hatney said he could not understand how Mobility could take on management of the city's buses, employees and their benefits and save the city $400,000 annually without raising bus fares.

"The rates are guaranteed," Adams said. "If it costs me more, it's on me."

Commissioner Corey Johnson said Mobility did what had been asked of them in their proposal, but the riders’ top need is really for a more robust system. He said he favored a public system and wondered if hiring a private management consultant could help the city implement the same improvements Mobility offered.

“If it remains a public system, you have total control of all of it,” Johnson said.

Bus Riders Association member Denice Traina said she was encouraged by what she heard from Mobility.

“It sounds like they’re offering a real partnership. Perhaps the savings would allow us to provide more of the service we need,” she said.

But Betty Flowers, who uses the bus, said she didn’t hear much in privatization that spoke to her needs.

“I do believe they need to expand the bus system,” she said. “They don’t understand what we need. People can’t get to work without better transportation.”

Bus rider Terrance Dicks said people have been complaining for a long time about needing a better system, and commissioners are coming to the table late with the idea.

“It’s time to involve the ridership, the people who really get the service,” he said.

Heyward Johnson said the Transportation Investment Act, which levies a regional one-cent sales tax for transportation projects if approved by voters, would be a way to finance expanding APT routes.

“It’s dedicated funding that would really help us,” he said.

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No_Longer_Amazed
5146
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 05/05/11 - 06:38 pm
0
0
I find it laughable that the

I find it laughable that the individual in charge of the current high-cost-to-the-taxpayers APT was included on the selection committee and now has a solution for its funding, a proposed Transportation Investment Act.

All Mobility will provide is management that is apparently missing from the current APT operation.

"Subject to approval by the commission, expanding service would cost extra" and the A-RC taxpayers will still be on the hook for $4.6 million a year because "The contractor would run the bus system for a fixed guaranteed cost that would be $400,000 less than the approximately $5 million annually the city currently spends on the bus system."

IMO if the bus service can not be made self-supporting it should be discontinued.

OhWell
327
Points
OhWell 05/05/11 - 06:46 pm
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0
For a short while I had to

For a short while I had to use the transit system to get to work and let me tell you anything would be better that what is in place now. I encountered some of the rudest drivers you can imagine. When you would call the office because the bus had not arrived dispatch was not very helpful. One day as I waited on the bus another regular rider came up and we waited until the bus was 10 minutes late and called, we were told the bus was running ahead of schedule and we would have to wait for the next bus because it came early. On another occasion I was at the bus stop and the driver just drove right on past me and the next time I got on her bus she proceeded to let me know I had gotten her in trouble and she did not appreciate it. I knew she saw me but she was going to fast because she braked and could not stop in time. I let Mr. Johnson know about this and also told him she was very rude, his comment was she had been driving for them for a long time. I could go on and on but that would not help anything. I am just glad the problem is being addressed by the city because with the price of gas more and more people are going to depend on the bus if the bus can get them to work on time.

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 05/05/11 - 07:07 pm
0
0
"People can’t get to work

"People can’t get to work without better transportation" - I managed to do it for over 50 years by providing my own.

“It’s time to involve the ridership, the people who really get the service” - NO it's time to involve the many people who are having to PAY so a few of the other people get a (next to) free ride.

Where can I sign up so that Augusta-Richmond County will pay for my car, its registration and insurance, gas and maintenance, and provide me with a chauffeur?

Although I live and pay taxes in Augusta-Richmond County, I am not on one of the APT routes.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 05/05/11 - 07:30 pm
0
0
So, all this is riding on the

So, all this is riding on the transportation tax? Yeah, not a good idea. Most of the tax money will be going to expand MARTA, and probably some goofy high speed rail boondoggle. Doubt it will get voted for anyway. People are sick of these penny taxes, and for good reason.

corgimom
46795
Points
corgimom 05/05/11 - 08:10 pm
0
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"Adams said his company could

"Adams said his company could also improve service without increasing costs by reorganizing where routes run."

There's Jackson, MS, Columbia SC, and then there's Augusta. He has no idea what he's getting into. Wait until the commissioners get involved in this- and yes, that's coming, they micromanage and mess up everything- and he finds out that he can't reorganize bus routes because the commissioners won't allow it.

I wonder if he knows that he's dealing with a city/county that is so dysfunctional, that a commissioner conducts an investigation as to why a city-owned tree was cut down, for one classic example.

corgimom
46795
Points
corgimom 05/05/11 - 08:11 pm
0
0
Oh, and yes, by all means,

Oh, and yes, by all means, raise the sales tax by another penny. That will make businesses flock to a city, all right. They will be fighting to relocate in a city that has astronomical sales taxes, for sure.

Sweet son
13700
Points
Sweet son 05/05/11 - 08:13 pm
0
0
Leave it to the "trio" to

Leave it to the "trio" to question something that might be an improvement!!!!! I am with corgi. Mr. Adams and company do not realize what they are getting into with the dysfunctional do nothing Augusta commission!!!!

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 05/05/11 - 09:09 pm
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Sales tax will be statewide,

Sales tax will be statewide, but only certain areas will prosper.

galaxygrl
1444
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galaxygrl 05/05/11 - 09:14 pm
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0
You mean like Atlanta?

You mean like Atlanta?

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 05/05/11 - 11:11 pm
0
0
Yup.

Yup.

Techfan
6464
Points
Techfan 05/06/11 - 06:53 am
0
0
Heck, let's make sure all

Heck, let's make sure all parks and recreation facilities are self supporting. Little Johnny wants to play baseball or soccer? That'll be $2,000 per year.

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