Bus routes split; new operators selected

The Las Vegas Valley will have a new bus operator come July, the Regional Transportation Commission decided Thursday.

Actually, it will have two.

The commission voted unanimously to award contracts to the lowest bidders in each of two geographic areas. MV Transportation will operate buses in the northern half of the valley, while Keolis Transit America will operate in the southern half.

Veolia Transportation Services had been the valley’s sole bus operator for 20 years. The commission was forced to split the contracts after a lawsuit.

Officials said the change will not lead to fare increases. There could be adjustments to some routes, not unlike those done during routine reviews.

The vote came over the protests of many members of the drivers union, led by Jose Mendoza, upset their collective bargaining agreements with Veolia would not carry over with the new contractors.

Mendoza, president of Amalgamated Transit Union 1637, threatened a strike if the union’s members cannot work out similar agreements with MV and Keolis. The RTC’s contract with Veolia ends July 6.

The bidding process was done in two steps. The first winnowed bidders to those who met the agency’s technical requirements.

The second weighed the cost heavily.

MV’s bid came in substantially lower than either Keolis’ or Veolia’s for the northern routes, while Keolis’ bid came in just under Veolia’s for the southern routes.

The contracts are for five years, with two two-year options and a one-year option. During the life of the contracts, the savings could top $65 million versus the Veolia bid.

Veolia executives made pleas for a delay in the vote, as did union members. They implied that MV’s bid, in particular, was unrealistically low if employee wages and benefits were to remain the same.

But Tina Quigley, the RTC’s general manager, said the agency brought in an outside company, TransPro, to evaluate the proposals. The evaluation, said the company’s chief executive officer, Mark Aesch, determined all three companies submitted realistic and fair bids.

Carter Pate, MV’s chief executive officer, promised his company would hire all of the current employees who pass drug and background checks at their current wages.

Benefits would be “similar,” he said to groans from the crowd.

He said his company is able to save so much money because it is more efficient.

“We’re not looking for a fight,” he said.

MV, based in Dallas, operates more than 200 paratransit, fixed-route, shuttle and Medicaid contracts internationally.

Its larger contracts include public transit systems in Fairfax County, Va., and the recent Summer Olympics in London.

Keolis, based in Los Angeles, operates more than 100 contracts around the world. They include operations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at or 702-383-0307.

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