Saturday, September 5, 2009

PRIVATIZATION THREAT IS REAL! say goodbye to decent pay and benefits

NCTD Board Votes to Issue Request
for Proposal for Bus Operations

The North County Transit District (NCTD) Board of Directors today authorized Executive Director Matthew Tucker to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a private contractor to handle NCTD's bus operations and maintenance services.

Staff recommended the action as a cost savings measure in order help resolve NCTD's financial situation, which projects annual deficits close to $19 million. The State of California eliminated transit assistance for the next five years resulting in a loss of $10.5 million annually to NCTD's budget. This, combined with declining sales tax revenues, translates into a loss projected in the millions.

The Board considered three options in reviewing NCTD's bus operations: maintaining the existing business model by reducing compensation costs, maintaining the existing business model by reducing compensation costs combined with partial outsourcing of NCTD's services, or 100% outsourcing. The Board reviewed each of the alternatives and concluded that the full outsourcing option represented the best alternative for NCTD, as it allows the operation to provide the highest level of service at the lowest cost per service hour operated. Under the outsourcing scenario, the public would be provided with 15 to 23 percent more vehicle service hours.

Continuing the existing business model would require significant across-the-board compensation reductions (in excess of 30%). These were deemed not feasible given that the resulting wages would be well below what is acceptable in the public and private sectors for fully trained mechanics and professional staff. The partial outsourcing option was also reviewed and determined not to be feasible because of the requirement to implement significant across-the-board reductions in compensation and savings were limited.

"We appreciate the excellent work put forth by NCTD employees in providing service to our customers on a daily basis. Back in February, the Board directed the Executive Director to begin looking at all alternatives given the decline in state and sales tax revenues. The decision today was not easy but reflects the Board's desire to provide the highest level of service to our customers. As we move forward, we will continue to review all of our business activities with a focus of reducing costs and increasing ridership," said NCTD Board Chairman Bob Campbell.

The RFP will be finalized and issued at the end of July 2009, with the first half of 2010 identified as a transition period and the private contract start-up to begin in July 2010.

NCTD moves more than 12 million passengers annually by providing public transportation for North San Diego County. Its family of transit services currently includes the BREEZE bus system, the COASTER commuter rail service, LIFT paratransit and the SPRINTER light rail. NCTD's FY 10 operating budget recently adopted by its Board totals $87.9 million. It is NCTD's mission to deliver safe, convenient, reliable and user-friendly public transportation services.

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