Members of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada approved two controversial bus operations and maintenance contracts today, as more than 100 union members jeered and applauded through more than two hours of testimony and debate.
Board members voted unanimously to approve the two contracts, taking the RTC in a new direction after operational issues that had festered since early 2011.
Two companies that have operated Southern Nevada’s public transit and paratransit bus systems for years will be out and new contractors in, if today’s decision stands. Rival companies can appeal the process.
The new contracts take effect July 7. The RTC will begin the transition process next month.
The RTC board agreed in late 2011 to split its public transit contract geographically as part of the settlement of a lawsuit. Today’s action awards a contract for the northern portion of the operation to Dallas-based MV Transportation Inc. for $525.7 million through July 6, 2017, with four two-year options.
The operation of the southern portion of service was awarded to Keolis Transit America, of Lombard, Ill., for $497.9 million through July 6, 2018, with two two-year options and one one-year option.
RTC officials have said the bus operation would be seamless and the public wouldn’t see any difference in service with the two different management teams.
Although representatives of MV Transportation and Keolis pledged to hire all drivers and maintenance workers back at their current pay rates, union leaders are concerned that employees would lose benefits in their current contracts.
Union representatives heckled MV Transportation CEO Carter Pate when he said the company would hire all employees back with the same wages and “similar” benefits. He said he couldn’t promise the same benefits because the company’s health care responsibilities under new federal legislation aren’t clear.