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Capital Metro votes on paratransit provider contracts

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 by Caleb Pritchard

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board of directors voted Monday afternoon to put the agency’s paratransit operations in the hands of a single contractor.

The pair of votes to authorize agency CEO and President Randy Clarke to negotiate agreements with Ride Right to run MetroAccess from the service’s north and south hubs marks a change in direction. While Ride Right currently has the contract to provide the service from the north paratransit facility at 817 Howard Lane, MV Transportation has been working from the southern base since 2012.

In February, the board considered extending Ride Right’s north base contract but ended up postponing that decision until it could deliberate on both agreements at once.

On Monday, the proposition of handing Ride Right the rights to the southern facility at 509 Thompson Lane generated the lion’s share of discussion, particularly over concerns regarding the existing collective bargaining agreement between MV Transportation and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091.

Chief Counsel Kerri Butcher told the board that the agency could not dictate the terms of that agreement.

However, Alaina Macia, CEO of Ride Right, gave her guarantee that the negotiations for a new contract would begin with the exact same wages the union enjoys under the existing contract. She also pledged to offer similar benefits.

That commitment alone was not enough to satisfy Council Member Ann Kitchen, who said, “From a policy perspective, I personally feel that it’s important and it’s our goal as a board to set certain parameters because these folks are our workers and they are the face” of the agency.

Ultimately, the board revised the language of the resolution to direct Clarke to include in the agency’s contract with Ride Right language that sets the existing wages and benefits as the foundation of future negotiations between the company and the union.

The board approved that resolution on a 6-0 vote, with Manor Mayor Rita Jonse and Williamson County appointee Juli Word both absent from the meeting.

The contract for the south paratransit facility would cover a four-year base term with the option for two three-year extensions and be worth up to $210 million.

The board also voted 6-0 to authorize Clarke to extend Ride Right’s north base operations for another three years for $25.7 million.

Photo by WhisperToMe (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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