YCIPTA resolves dispute with ADOT over Douglas bus lease
A dispute between the Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority and the Arizona Department of Transportation regarding buses leased to the city of Douglas has been resolved, reported the transit director.
The issue revolved around buses leased to Douglas, an agreement approved by the board of directors in August. John Andoh reported that the city was not submitting timely reports ensuring the vehicles were being maintained properly.
"As part of our continuing control of the assets, YCIPTA is responsible and liable for the buses," Andoh said.
The dispute between the ADOT Transit Programs Unit and YCIPTA escalated to the point it required intervention from Jennifer Toth, deputy director of ADOT, and Scott Omer, director of multimodal planning at ADOT, Andoh told the board.
Andoh met with all parties in early January, “and it appears the dispute has been resolved. YCIPTA committed that it is important to maintain its relationship with ADOT, and Ms. Toth and Mr. Omer committed the same.”
However, YCIPTA is still concerned Douglas might not be maintaining the buses according to the YCIPTA maintenance plan.
“If that is the case, a decision needs to be made regarding allow the city of Douglas to continue to lease these four buses or if YCIPTA should terminate the lease agreement,” Andoh stated in the report.
YCIPTA exchanged two six-passenger buses for eight-passenger buses that YCIPTA owned.
"Douglas originally leased four vehicles from us, two 32-passenger buses and two eight-passenger buses. We had overcrowding on routes that resulted in the YCIPTA trading the vehicles to address the overcrowding issue," Andoh explained.
The lease agreement was made in August, and the request to make the exchange and to get an update on the maintenance reports was made in December, which triggered the dispute between ADOT and YCIPTA.
“First Transit (the contractor that runs the buses) did a good job in ensuring that the vehicles traded were in an excellent condition minus normal wear and tear,” Andoh said.
The city's reports regarding the maintenance of the leased vehicles “makes it appear that the buses are being maintained in accordance with YCIPTA Maintenance Plan,” he said.
However, he noted, First Transit inspected two of the buses and expressed concerns with the city's maintenance practices. The inspection turned up 40 defects on buses, ranging from accident damage to an emergency exit window that does not close, a missing radio antenna and air filters that were not changed.
Andoh said he will meet with the Douglas city manager to discuss the concerns and, if necessary, seek reimbursement for the repairs incurred by First Transit.
The dispute between YCIPTA and ADOT resulted in YCIPTA advising the City of Douglas that if the reports and fluid samples were not received by Dec. 31, YCIPTA would assess liquidated damages, per the terms of the agreement. A telephone conversation between Andoh and the Douglas city manager regarding the matter occurred and Douglas cooperatively agreed to provide the reports and fluid samples timely and were fine with YCIPTA desires to exchange the vehicle, Andoh said.
However, the original request from YCIPTA is what triggered the ADOT dispute between YCIPTA and ADOT regarding these vehicles.
“Douglas was more than cooperative regarding our concerns and wanted to work with us on the matter so that it did not want to escalate,” Andoh said.
YCIPTA currently owns the vehicles and ADOT has requested that YCIPTA transfer the buses to ADOT for use by the City of Douglas.
"YCIPTA board has to approve this request, followed by Federal Transit Administration, and ADOT has to accept the buses, before the buses can be transferred over. Once all the approvals are received, then YCIPTA will no longer be liable for the buses," Andoh explained.
“At this time, YCIPTA does not have a need for the four vehicles leased to the city of Douglas and does not forecast a need for the foreseeable future."
In other business, Michele Dominguez, management analyst, presented the board with a 2011-12 performance summary of the YCAT system, according to goals previously approved by the board.
Overall, YCIPTA buses carried 294,405 passenger trips and operated about 23,966 revenue hours. Ridership increased by 28,112 additional passenger trips due to five new routes added in January 2012, as well as a sixth route in June.
The majority of the urban fixed and demand response routes met their goals. However, subsidy per passenger goals were not met for all or most of rural/rural flex routes. Subsidy goals were met for all of the other local routes, Dominguez said.
Yellow Route 95 (Highway 95 South) was the most productive urban fixed route service, carrying an average of 20.28 passengers per hour with a $2.55 average subsidy per passenger.
The former Grey Route was the best-performing rural route carrying an average of 6.52 passengers per hour with an $8.54 average subsidy per passenger. This route, which ran every 75 minutes, has been replaced with the Violet Route, which runs every hour. It serves the Mesa Verde and Orange Grove areas.
Purple Route 6A (Avenues A and Cocopah Reservation) and Gold Route 8 (Interstate 8/Wellton) both had low passengers per hour and subsidies of $10.76 and $14.70 per passenger, respectively.
Andoh noted that service changes made to most routes as well as schedule changes, the on-time performance of the entire bus system has “greatly improved. They're very few late routes as a result.”
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.