04/27/04 — Shelters still needed for buses

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Shelters still needed for buses

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 27, 2004 1:57 PM

Changes are coming to the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation System.

Not only has the Gateway Authority decided to hire an independent contractor to run the transit system, it is also actively seeking feedback from bus riders.

At its last meeting, the authority approved a draft of a brochure aimed at soliciting comments from passengers. The brochure will be available soon on the buses.

"The passengers can make comments or suggestions and put those on the brochure," said City Manager Richard Slozak. "It will be anonymous."

A need for shelters at various bus stops has already been a frequent request of riders for several years, but ordering them has not been easy.

Before the authority could order the shelters, it had to have a procurement document in place. That document had to be approved by the state.

For months, the authority didn't get any response from the state on the procurement policy. When the policy was finally sent back to Goldsboro, changes had to be made to the document.

Finally, in late fall 2003, the document was approved. But by that time the authority was in the middle of searching for an independent contractor to run the transportation system.

The shelter topic came up again in February, and the authority decided to start the process. It is now sending requests for proposals to companies for the bus shelters.

By July, public transportation in Wayne County is scheduled to be managed by a bus contracting company based in Missouri.

The Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority approved a proposal last month from Applebus Co. to manage the buses and vans. The financial details have yet to be worked out.

Slozak said last week that contract negotiations with the company were going well, and he expected to have the contract by the board's meeting next month.

Applebus manages the transit systems in Edgecombe, Wilson and Nash counties.

Gateway began talking about hiring a company to manage the transit authority last summer. By the fall, the authority had put out a request for proposals, which was approved by the Federal Transportation Authority and the state Transportation Department.

Five companies indicated a preliminary interest in running the system, meeting with Smith and Slozak in October to find out more about the proposal request.

The board received proposals from three companies: Laidlaw, MV Co. and Applebus.

Laidlaw was disqualified by Gateway and the state and federal systems because of the way it submitted its rates.

The other two companies were evaluated by various criteria, including financial stability, professional qualifications, previous experience and the ability to provide services.

"After we went through and evaluated, we sent it up to the state to see what they thought," Slozak said. "We tried to avoid the pitfalls from the past."

They said they found that Applebus had the ability to operate a system of Gateway's size and was successful in nearby areas.