Old Transit Wounds Surface at Elk Grove City Council Meeting

Cheaper, lower rated tires to be used on etran buses Perhaps it was the memories of constituents complaining about standing-room-only com...

Cheaper, lower rated tires to be used on etran buses

Perhaps it was the memories of constituents complaining about standing-room-only commuter routes, frequent mechanical breakdowns of hybrid buses along Highway 99 or the malfunctioning air conditioning units in the heat of summer. Whatever was the case, Elk Grove Mayor Jim Cooper voiced many concerns about the city's privately-owned transit provider, MV Transportation at last night's city council meeting.

Cooper expressed his concerns about the provider of Elk Grove's e-tran bus service while hearing a request by MV to modify their contract with the city. The request was based on a rate reduction of dead-heading buses returning to Elk Grove after dropping commuters downtown.

With the relocation of the California Prison Healthcare administrative offices, it is anticipated empty buses returning from downtown Sacramento could be used to to shuttle employees back to Elk Grove. As a result the city had sought to reduce the rate it pays for the so-called dead-head trips (no passengers).

While MV agreed to charge a lower rate in anticipation of fares on the dead-head trips, it also sought other concessions from the city. It was during the discussion of these concessions that Cooper expressed his concerns.

One concession involved tires. Under the current agreement the city pays for top-of-the-line tires and MV said they would now pay for tire, but a lower grade. Cooper noted that when the city bought tires they were top of the line, but now that MV would be responsible, a lower grade would be used.

Cooper noted the importance tires play in passenger safety. "We want them to be safe," he said of passengers riding etran buses.

MV representative Jay Jeter countered that the lower grade tires were just as safe as the current ones and said the difference is the high quality tires were not as readily available, thus they are more expensive.

"We are putting tires on the vehicles that are not necessary for the service," Jeter said.

"Your recommendation was to have the tire when the city paid for it," Cooper countered.

Cooper also expressed concern of the turnover in management at at MV saying there have been up to 30 different managers and supervisors that have cycled through their ranks.

"That is a red flag, something is going on," Cooper said.

Coming to Jeter's aid was MV's public relations and political consultant Michelle Smira who countered Cooper's assessment of turnover. "We are not in agreement on that," Smira said.

Cooper persisted and asked Smira if she could provide an actual number, but she declined to give one.

The other point of contention for Cooper was the request to modify when arbitration of disputes between the two parties. MV had sought to loosen the arbitration process over how assessments (fines) are levied but Cooper strenuously objected.

In the end council members Steve Detrick and and Pat Hume (Gary Davis and Sophia Scherman were absent) agreed with Cooper that the city could accept the contract modifications with the exception of the arbitration change.

"Assessments are the city's tool," Copper noted.

MV Transportation’s contract will expire on June 30, 2014.

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Anonymous said...

Hooray for the Mayor! Hopefully the days of playing our City Council members for fools is over and campaign contributions that jeopardize our city's long term integrity and quality of life will be politely refused.

Someday however, many will come to realize that running our own bus service was one of the biggest boondoggles we ever created in our fair city. Despite their having dark tinted windows, we can still see the buses running empty most of the time--a scandal waiting to happen perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Isn't it ironic, many city employees were turned down when trying to ride the "empty" buses to cut down on commuter/carpool options - however, now the MV folks are considering it. Amazing.

Good for Mr. Cooper - but I would counter the Tire issue. It is important. Quality matters. Once an accident has occurred, I hope they refer to this.

Ao said...

Time to either dump the transit system, which would look like a pretty poor decision as a city, you need something, and even small municipalities have them, and you have some people that do rely on them since they are in place. I would say, better start negotiating with a group of "professionals" who understand how a system should be run, and apply it to our city. But don't wait until the 11th hour to try and negotiating with MV and not have a 2nd option or we're over a barrel and taxpayers lose/lose.

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