University Will Accept Bids for New Shuttle Company

“It’s best practice to go out to bid…to maintain competitive pricing, service, and fleet options.”

By Hillel Steinmetz

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The University is expecting new companies to bid for the contract to manage its shuttle services later this spring.

The University presently employs First Transit, a transport company based in Cincinnati, to operate its shuttle system. Its five-year contract ends in August 2016, before which the University will reach an agreement with First Transit or another shuttle service company. The University expects to publish a detailed request for proposals with guidelines for companies this April.

Bridget Malone, the communications manager for the University’s Department of Safety and Security, said in an e-mail that First Transit manages campus transport systems by training and hiring drivers, in addition to providing the University with the vehicles used for the shuttle system. According to its website, First Transit also offers other operational services, such as supplying tracking technology and maintaining and repairing vehicles.

Beth Tindel, the director for transportation services and parking at the University of Chicago, said that the University decided to search for a new company to ensure reasonable services at fair costs.

“It’s best practice to go out to bid every three to five years to maintain competitive pricing, service, and fleet options,” Tindel wrote in an e-mail.

According to Malone, First Transit is welcome to participate in the bidding process as long as it meets the University’s guidelines.

Drivers currently working for the University’s shuttle services will have the option of applying to work as drivers for the next company contracted by the University, or they can choose to continue working for First Transit.

Paulina Torres, a Class of 2019 College Council representative, said that Student Government (SG) is seeking to advance environmentally friendly alternatives to current shuttles. The SG Committee on Campus Sustainability is leading an effort to promote the use of either hybrid or electric power options for the vehicles.