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Mobility Transit Services responds to city's allegations

Transit service defends against city's allegations

Friday, May 25, 2012 6:20 PM
Last updated Saturday, May 26, 2012 1:07 AM
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The private company that took over management of Augusta Public Transit last year is standing firm and defending itself against allegations in the city’s May 7 “cure notice,” which ordered the company to fix several issues or risk losing its contract.

In a response Wednesday obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, Mobility Transit Services LLC blames some of the problems on other parties, including the city itself, and denies others but does acknowledge a few errors.

Late bill payments to Georgia Power, for instance, resulted after the city switched its transit power accounts to Mobility and some of the accounts “fell through the cracks and were not transferred,” said the letter from Mobility’s Augusta attorney, Beth McLeod.

Mobility attributes another late-payment issue to billing irregularities on the part of Executive Janitorial, which was hired to clean the buses.

It says those irregularities include Executive’s “hounding” for early payment because the company was “in dire need of the money to cover payroll.”

Mobility also asserts that issues with monthly reporting of drug testing, bus accidents and equal employment opportunity concerns mentioned in the May 7 notice were remedied by the time the notice was sent.

In response to the city’s allegation that it did not address the concerns of a disabled rider, Mobility said that the rider raised different concerns with the company from what he did in a subsequent communication with the city’s EEO office and that he canceled two meetings arranged with Mobility General Manager Mike Rosson.

Augusta City Manager Fred Russell said he had reviewed the response but has not decided what to recommend to the Augusta Commission.

“I think they responded to each of our concerns and pointed out some things that they’ve done to correct them,” Russell said. “The question is, is that good enough at this point?”

Commissioners on either side of the bus-privatization issue had differing opinions about Mobility’s response.

“They seemed to have a lot of answers in there. They seem reasonable to me,” said Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who supported the move to Mobility and has criticized the city’s management of the bus service, which it purchased from a private operator decades ago.

Commissioner Bill Lockett, a critic of outsourcing bus service last year, was not persuaded by the firm’s response and suggested that the city run a credit report on the company.

“I saw lots of falsities, especially in reference to their credit,” he said. “Two weeks ago, they were going around hastily paying vendors.”

Lockett also questioned the firm’s adherence to the city’s personnel policies and labor laws.

“If (their) information is correct, it definitely warrants further investigation by the labor department and federal agencies since we are dealing with federal dollars,” he said.

Much of that federal money, $934,183, is up for approval at a commission committee meeting Tuesday. It would go toward buying three buses that Mobility would operate. The grant requires a 20 percent city match.

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omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 05/25/12 - 06:27 pm
1
0

jerry brigham.. what did you

jerry brigham.. what did you do to improve city bus service? anything close to recommending replacing heywood johnson? You are pretty much blaming yourself and the other 9 bojos down at the marvel palace. ok, so maybe you're right.

Sweet son
8233
Points
Sweet son 05/25/12 - 06:48 pm
3
1

No Way to Satisfy Lockett and his amigos!

When I saw the article I knew that Lockett would have something negative to say. All he is trying to do is make his "friends/former Transit employees" think he is standing up for them. I am sure that the private transit company has not done everything just right but we are only a year into this new endeavor. Thanks Jerry for being the only voice of reason in the article. Change is a slow process and we need to let things proceed without Commission interference. I am all for saving taxpayer money but an operation as big as the transit system will never run absolutely perfect but being private it will still save money in the long run.

Oh, I saw a handicapped bus on King Road which is beside the King funeral home in Columbia County this morning. Maybe Lockett should check on this. I know that the buses run Washington Road to Davis and back into Richmond County on Walton Way extension but is a handicapped pickup in Columbia County something we should be doing??

countyman
16798
Points
countyman 05/25/12 - 09:54 pm
3
0

Are you sure the home is

Are you sure the home is located in Columbia County?? King street is located off Davis rd were the imaginary line is formed... The home could be located in Columbia County, because the bus does run near the K-Mart shopping center in Martinez...

The buses need to expand further out into Fort Gordon, South Augusta, and parts of West Augusta... The buses should run to atleast around 10pm or 11pm at night...

One of the first signs of a city truly turning the corner is the use of public transporation... Some people in metro Augusta still think the working class/poor can only use the bus system.. I pray for the day when we have a better bus system, and additonal sidewalks/bike lanes throughout the county...

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 05/25/12 - 08:52 pm
2
0

I agree with you Country Man!

I agree with you Country Man! Augusta needs to take the stigma of only the poor use public transportation away.

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 05/25/12 - 08:52 pm
0
1

I agree with you Country Man!

I agree with you Country Man! Augusta needs to take the stigma of only the poor use public transportation away.

Sweet son
8233
Points
Sweet son 05/26/12 - 01:00 pm
1
1

@Countyman

I have a good friend who lives on the right in the apartments at the end of King Road away from Davis. She has a Columbia County license plate on her car. I am confident that King Funeral home on the other end of the road is in Columbia County. The bus I saw was not the big one that travels Davis it was very much a handicapped type pick up and it was coming out of the street in the middle that goes into offices. Think it is called Executive Center Dr. Doesn't really matter I was just trying in my comment to tell Mr. Locket not to condemn the operation at such an early stage. Have a great day!!

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