MV Transportation poised to win CATS contract

MV Transportation, a Dallas public transportation provider, is poised to be awarded a $1.4 million contract for two years to offer transportation expertise and management assistance to the Capital Area Transit System.

On Thursday, CATS staff recommended MV Transportation over competitor Reliant Transportation to a committee of the CATS board.

The full CATS board will vote on the proposal Tuesday.

The committee also recommended Bob Mirabito, who has served as an interim leader with CATS for almost six months, be awarded the position with a year-long contract and a raise from $126,000 a year to $140,000 a year.

He will also receive a $700 a month vehicle allowance.

This marks CATS’ second attempt to award the much-anticipated program management contract, which will guide the agency as it provides service expansions promised in the 2012 election.

The first attempt earlier this year was scrapped after public outcry that the selection process was tainted by board involvement.

The selection process that yielded the recommendation of MV Transportation was handled by CATS staff.

The selection committee gave high marks to MV for its level of experience, the qualifications of the individuals assigned to work directly with CATS, and its price.

MV Transportation proposed a price of $1.4 million, compared with Reliant Transportation’s proposed $1.9 million.

CATS asked the companies to provide both a project manager and chief operating officer under the contract. MV Transportation offered Bill DeVille, the former CEO of the New Orleans Regional Transportation Authority, for both positions.

DeVille has more than 25 years of public transportation experience and spent 18 years rising through the ranks of NORTA before he was dismissed by its board in 2006. DeVille said he was let go because new board members decided to go in a different direction.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with the staff there and the board, the employees, the unions, the community and the elected officials to try to improve service, improve operations and make it a flagship bus system for the region, if not the country,” DeVille said.

DeVille has twice applied to be the CEO of CATS — as recently as this year when he applied for the interim position against Mirabito.

He said he moving forward, CATS largest challenge will be public education of the new services and routes.

“You don’t want to put a new service out there and have no one knowing where to go, when to go or how to do it,” DeVille said.

MV is subcontracting with Franklin Associates to run the public education component. Franklin Associates is run by Perry Franklin, a former CATS board member.

Reliant Transportation has worked with CATS for eight years under a contract to provide door-to-door service for disabled riders.

Reliant joined with Parsons Brinckerhoff, a world-wide engineering firm, for the transit management contract.

But members of the selection committee expressed concerns about the team’s lack of experience with fixed route systems and Federal Transit Authority regulations.

Two other candidates, Veolia Transportation — which runs NORTA — and First Transit — which runs LSU’s Tiger Trails, have dropped from the running.

First Transit, which was working with SJB Group as a subcontractor, withdrew and Veolia was disqualified because its subcontractor failed to turn in required paperwork.

Mirabito’s 13-month contract extention also will go for the full board for final approval.