Commission to discuss new bus operator

 

There may be a new bus company in town, with City Administrator Fred Russell’s plan to recommend today that Augusta hire McDonald Transit of Fort Worth, Texas, to run the city bus service.

McDonald, whose Web site lists Robert Babbitt as president, would take over when the city’s existing contract with Mobility Transit expires July 31. The firm was one of five companies to successfully submit a bid.

“After the selection committee attended the vendor presentations and conducting a thorough analysis of the proposal, McDonald Transit has been identified as the vendor that best suits Augusta’s needs for Transit Services,” Procurement Director Geri Sams wrote in a letter obtained by The Augusta Chronicle. Additional information about the firm’s proposal was not available Wednesday.

Augusta has been in litigation with Mobility, which it hired in 2011, since warning the firm last year of its need to cure several contract deficiencies, including improper drug testing and failure to pay vendors.

In February, the commission notified Mobility of its intent to terminate the five-year bus contract, and Mobility sued, alleging the city broke procurement and open meetings laws when it re-bid the transit contract.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall ordered a stay in the litigation so the city and Mobility could enter
mediation mandated by their contract.

The bus contract issues are one of a handful of large service contract and procurement problems Augusta has encountered in recent years. Wednesday, Superior Court Judge David Roper ordered the city re-bid its employee health insurance contract after finding errors and violations in the procurement process.

The commission also voted earlier this year to re-bid its ambulance contract at the urging of Fire Chief Chris James, who said the existing agreement with Gold Cross was vague and difficult to enforce, only to recently
reverse course and authorize Russell to renegotiate with Gold Cross.

The commission is expected to discuss the transit and insurance orders and other pending litigation during a 4:30 p.m. called legal meetingtoday. The commission’s regular July 2 meeting was rescheduled for today due to the July 4 holiday.

Other business on today’s regular meeting agenda includes:

• Second readings of ordinances protecting animals and children left in locked vehicles

• An application by Lucretia Haynes for an on-premises liquor license at Cheerz Conference Center, 2059 Gordon Highway.

• Discussion of a “no-confidence” vote on General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie’s performance, requested by Commissioner Bill Lockett

• Discussion of the city’s new solid waste contract, which left thousands of customers without service during the contract’s first few weeks

• Authorization of Russell and Mayor Deke Copenhaver to OK, without commission approval, the city’s purchase of as many as 140 parcels valued up to $50,000 needed for the sales-tax-funded expansion of Windsor Spring Road

Mobility Transit files procurement lawsuit against Augusta
Augusta could terminate contract with Mobility transit company
Mobility Transit Services responds to city's allegations
Private bus operator Mobility declares success
Topics page: Augusta Public Transit
Topics page: Augusta-Richmond County Commission

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