By Ted AYALA
Glendale City Council voted on Tuesday to renew the Glendale Beeline’s operational analysis contract to the firm that had conducted prior analyses of the system in 2008 and 2010. That firm, Dan Boyle & Associates, Inc. of San Diego, edged out four other firms that had been competing for the Beeline contract since Glendale released its request for proposal in July. The five firms that had been competing for the contract were culled from an original group of 17 that were contacted by the city. One of those firms declined the invitation citing current commitments that would render them unable to participate.
According to the city’s director of Public Works, Steve Zurn, the Dan Boyle firm was the clear choice as it had “come out on top” over its competitors after a rigorous submission process.
“I’m personally confident and stand by his operation,” he said in remarks to the City Council.
Past recommendations by the Dan Boyle firm included cutting back on Beeline services as well as implementing higher fares.
Service originally cost 25 cents until October 2011 when the fare increased to 75 cents, then beginning July 2012. Increased revenue from local sales taxes and cutbacks in city administration allowed the council to cancel a further rate increase to $1.25 earlier this year.
The Boyle firm has touted its ability to help save the Beeline money, while ensuring it remains a viable transportation option.
“[We] developed a series of recommendations to focus service where it is most needed that will result in an annual savings of over $200,000,” reads a description of its work with the Beeline on its website.
Councilmember Ara Najarian brought to Zurn’s attention concerns from the public over some of the Boyle firm’s prior suggestions, citing in detail an anonymous email he had received from a Beeline rider.
“He had followed the history of the [Dan] Boyle firm and was critical of the report [they] gave to council,” Najarian told Zurn. “He was saying that some of their suggestions were extreme and non-workable. [The author of the email] was surprised that the firm had been picked again.”
Zurn acknowledged that the changes suggested by the Boyle firm were ones likely to anger Beeline riders. But given the state of the city’s finances at the time the decisions were made, there were few alternatives.
“Council had to make very some tough choices concerning fare hikes and cutting of services,” he said. “Dan Boyle provided solid information on which to base those decisions. They weren’t easy decisions, they weren’t perfect decisions, we didn’t please everybody, but I’m very confident in Mr. Boyle’s firm.”
Other concerns stemmed from cuts to services made to certain routes. Most controversial was the elimination of Route 13, which had formerly connected Glenoaks Canyon to downtown Glendale.
“Even with improved access to downtown and the Beeline network, there is not enough demand to warrant the cost of operating Route 13,” read the Boyle firm’s previous analysis. “The only feasible option identified is to discontinue the route.”
Zurn again reminded council that difficult choices needed to be made.
“We have a finite source of revenue. We had maximized our service,” he said. “We had simply spent every dime that we had received … and we needed to peel back on that.”
The elimination of the route, he continued, was made only after it was confirmed that existing MTA lines overlapping the route would be able to pick up the service. Zurn said that residents of the affected areas would still have options.
“Some of the routes that were popular were reduced because existing [MTA] lines made them redundant,” said Councilmember Laura Friedman. “What was happening was that our buses were cheaper and overcrowded, while Metro’s were underperforming.”