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MMVTA approves new carrier

| Saturday, May 2, 2009

For the first time since its inception in 1985, the Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority will have a new carrier.

The authority board overwhelmingly approved First Transit, a national company headquartered in Cincinnati, as its new carrier. The company bid $6,845,389.12 for the three-year contract.

That bid was significantly lower than the $8,530,281 bid by 88 Transit, the only carrier the local transit system has had in its 24-year existence.

GG&C Bus Co., of Washington, Pa., bid $8,474,754.44.

The vote to award the new contract was 16-3 with board members Joe Villella, of North Charleroi, Joe Karbowski, of Allenport, and Ed Martin, of Belle Vernon, voting no.

Villella and Karbowski could not be reached for comment.

Reached at his home Friday afternoon and asked about his vote, Martin said, "I have my reason, but I'm not going to discuss it."

88 Transit's current contract expires June 30. That pact was a three-year deal with an option for one additional year. The transit carrier received $6,482,521 in the first three years of the contract.

The fleet of 33 buses is owned by the transit authority.

That fleet includes six new 40-foot buses that will be placed into service on the commuter route to Pittsburgh. The new buses are the first of their kind for the authority, spokesman Marc Roncone said.

Manufactured by the Gillig Corporation, the buses include high-back reclining seats with retractable head rests, inside and outside security cameras and a low floor configuration.

The low configuration means that there is only one small step into the vehicle and a ramp that flips out from the vehicle for the loading of wheel chair passengers.

Under the contract, the carrier provides drivers and maintenance for the vehicles.

First Transit will establish local operations at a site that has yet to be determined.

88 Transit is based out of Upper Speers.

The new three-year contract covers all fixed and paratransit services offered by the transit authority.

First Transit not only had the lowest bid, but the best overall documentation of how it is going to provide services, Roncone said.

The new carrier is expected to keep the current employees and is not expected to reduce the workforce, Roncone said.

Dan Cuthbert, president of Local 1743, said the Transportation Employees Act, protects the employees' jobs during a takeover.

Local 1743 signed a contract with 88 Transit in February that expires June 30. The union will be required to negotiate a new pact with the new carrier.

Eventually, First Transit will move to Donora.

Thursday night, the authority board awarded contracts for Phase I construction of the new maintenance facility in the Donora industrial park.

The building construction project was awarded to Repal Construction Co., of North Huntingdon Township, for $2,598,000.

East West Manufacturing and Supply Co., of Pittsburgh, received the heating and air contract at a cost of $400,500.

The plumbing contract was awarded to Ryco Inc., of Mc-Keesport, for $388,800.

The electrical contract was awarded to A-1, of Venetia, for $660,000.

Work will begin soon and is expected to be completed by spring 2010.

The authority is seeking funding for phase II of its construction project at Donora, renovating the existing building for indoor bus storage.

Phase II also will include an intermodal transit center where passengers can buy tickets and catch the bus there as part of a hub for local routes. A park-and-ride lot also will be built there.

The authority's administrative offices will remain in Charleroi.

88 Transit President Stanley Nabozny was reported to be in meetings Friday and could not be reached for comment.

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