By Ted AYALA
A six-year contract totaling nearly $44,000,000 that would continue the city’s relationship with the Glendale Beeline’s current operator was approved by Glendale City Council on Tuesday night.
MV Transportation, Inc., which is headquartered in Dallas, will operate the Beeline until 2021, with two further options for one-year extensions after 2021. They have been operating the city’s municipal bus fleet since 2008.
City Manager Scott Ochoa said that the choice fell upon MV after open bidding for the contract failed to produce any competitors. One of the reasons for that, he explained, was that the contract requires the operator to keep a yard for its buses “within the immediate vicinity” of Glendale. MV was the only operator that met that requirement.
Ochoa continued by saying that it was crucial for the city to keep the yard for the Beeline close to the city in order to cut costs, a matter of importance for Glendale as it heavily subsidizes the system. According to Mayor Ara J. Najarian, the city collects 18 cents for every dollar spent on the Beeline.
He added, however, that the city is in the process of moving forward with constructing its own bus yard. He estimated that the planning and design for the yard would take approximately 18 months and that construction would take about another four to five years before it’s completed.
When asked by Councilmember Paula Devine whether it would be better to instead award MV a four-year contract with a one-year extension, Ochoa quickly insisted that it was important for the city to retain “some measure of flexibility.”
“If something went wrong during the construction [of the bus yard], [MV] would happen to have an advantage over us,” he explained. “We want to make sure we work out the kinks.”
The opening of the yard, he said, would “promise to get a number of different providers for this contract.”
Director of Public Works Roubik Golanian is scheduled to bring up the matter of the bus yard before Council next Tuesday.
Councilmember Zareh Sinanyan expressed the hope that the facility would be able to “quickly adapt new technologies” such as electric-powered buses.
Mayor Najarian, who also sits on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), said that the facility should be able to do just that. He also added that the MTA has offered to loan the city one of its electrical buses so it can better acquaint itself with the possibilities of an electric fleet.
The MTA recently purchased five electric buses that are currently in the testing phases of operations.
Najarian said that as electric technology improves, its use by the Beeline will be “become more feasible.”
Before taking a swipe at the city’s other expenditures, Mike Mohill came forward to the Council dais to urge the Council to expand the Beeline’s service.
“It needs to be expanded and not reduced,” he said.