Six companies are bidding to receive the Midlands transit authority’s bus operator contract, which is nearly a year overdue for selection.
First Group America, Keolis Transit America, McDonald Transit, MV Transportation, Ride Right LLC and Transdev (formerly Veolia Transdev) have been interviewing this week with an evaluation committee, according to Bob Schneider, executive director for The COMET.
Keolis and Transdev, along with First Transit, previously were candidates for a potential 10-year contract to run The COMET. But transit board members voted in June to scrap the original negotiation process with one of the two front-running companies, Keolis and Transdev, and start over with a new request for proposals.
An operator contract decision was originally expected to be made last December.
The COMET’s contract with Transdev, its current operator for more than a decade, was extended after it was set to expire in April.
Full route restoration
After bus routes were severely cut in 2010, COMET has been working to restore its previous level of service and more.
Come Jan. 5, bus routes will cover every area they covered in 2010 with additions and improvements. Changes that will roll out Jan. 5 include the separation of routes 11 and 12 around Colonial Heights/Colonial Apartments, an adjustment of Route 401 along Blossom and Harden streets and the introduction of a new north-south route along the Harden Street corridor.
Last month, service was restored to the Sandhills area with the new Route 55x.
Shelters are coming
Two new 16-foot shelters could be installed at the downtown transit center at Sumter and Laurel streets by the start of the new year after an installation contract was signed this week.
Orders will be placed soon for bus stop shelters to go in near large shopping centers. While awaiting their arrival after the transit center shelters are installed, COMET will begin installing new, more visible signs at bus stops.