- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

MONROE, La. (AP) - Two members of the Monroe City Council want to consider using another transit company instead of First Transit to manage the bus system.

Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said in April he intended to keep First Transit despite the council voting against renewing its contract.

The News-Star reports (http://tnsne.ws/1sRuYrr ) council members Ray Armstrong and Kenny Wilson said it’s time to consider one of the other three companies that bid on the contract rather than proceeding with a company the council did not approve of.

The city received bids from four companies, including three of the largest transit companies in the country in First Transit, McDonald Transit and M.V. Transportation Inc.

A fourth company, The Reliant Group from Baton Rouge, fell well below expectations and was never seriously considered, according to Public Works Director Tom Janway.

Janway, Monroe’s Budget Officer Curtis Heard and Monroe’s Chief Operating Officer Jimmie Bryant reviewed the proposals and scored them using an evaluation form.

First Transit was the second most expensive proposal, asking about $2.39 million over 10 years, and McDonald was the most expensive proposal, about $2.46 million over 10 years.

Janway said he deducted from McDonald because the company did not return a completed questionnaire.

“First Transit has been contracted for 36 years. We’re very comfortable and confident with their management and their executive management. We receive a lot of support when we have issues,” Janway said.

The city is going to pay First Transit about $200,000 a year to run the system without a contract. But the city cannot use federal money to pay for the company without a contract.

“I do have some concerns,” Wilson said. “I don’t want to see us lose federal dollars.”

The transit system has a total budget of about $5 million. About $1.9 million of that money comes from a city subsidy, and $600,000 comes from fares. The rest comes from grants. Janway said the city has more than enough of its own money invested in the system to pay First Transit, and the accountants are working on financial statements to clearly demonstrate no federal money is flowing to First Transit.

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Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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