Friday, 09 December 2011 00:00
The Nassau County Legislature has scheduled a hearing next week on a contract between Veolia Transportation and Nassau County outlining the terms of a public-private operating partnership to operate Long Island Bus. The contract gives the county control over its own transit system for the first time, offering a significantly higher level of control and oversight than it has with the MTA as system operator.
The county negotiated significant oversight in its contract with Veolia to protect riders, workers and taxpayers. This contract stands in stark contrast to the relationship the County had with the MTA, in which the County had little to no control over routes, service levels or how funds were invested and service planned. The county’s contract with Veolia gives it control in numerous ways, including:
Veolia will operate the bus system under the oversight and control of both the county and a Transit Committee comprised of county residents.
The Transit Committee will not only monitor Veolia’s performance, but must approve an annual plan and budget for the bus system and any proposed fare adjustments or significant service level adjustments to the annual plan during the course of a year.
Because Veolia’s compensation is based on the hours of service it actually provides, as well as attracting more riders, the contract strongly incentivizes Veolia to provide as much service as available funding sources allow, not less, and to obtain additional funding to grow the service.
Veolia has little discretion over route adjustments. The contract details specific provisions and criteria for what kinds of changes to routes Veolia can make. Only the most underutilized routes that require the greatest taxpayer subsidy can be candidates for examination or adjustment.
Veolia is required under the contract to design and implement a public participation plan that gives riders and others the ability to have input on proposed adjustments before they are made.
The Transit Committee will receive a quarterly report card from Veolia that rigorously measures and reports important performance criteria such as on-time performance, missed service, stop pass-bys, mechanical breakdowns, cost per mile, revenue per mile, calls answered, customer complaints and more. This is information the county has never had in the past.
Finally, the contract allows the county to make changes to the contract and to unilaterally terminate its relationship with Veolia with 90 days notice. Veolia must give the county one-year’s notice of termination. The term of Veolia’s contract is five years, after which time a five-year renewal is possible at the county’s option.