A long-standing provider of transport services for disabled and elderly residents of Le Marin has decided not to challenge plans to transfer the service to a French company from next year.
Vivalon, formerly known as Whistlestop, has been providing paratransit service in Marin for over 50 years and has had a contract with the local transit agency, Marin Transit, for 48 years. More than 10,000 passengers used the service each month before the pandemic.
Vivalon’s contract will expire next year. Marin Transit has issued a tender for the three-year, $ 24 million contract. In September, the agency’s board of directors voted to award the contract to Transdev from February.
After two unsuccessful attempts to protest the decision, Anne Gray, Managing Director of Vivalon, announced that she would no longer continue to challenge the decision and would instead work to ensure a “smooth transition” with Transdev.
“After carefully considering our options for ensuring paratransit users the same safe and reliable service that they have enjoyed with Vivalon over the past 50 years, we are confident that Vivalon has done everything possible, other than hiring legal counsel. costly, to continue to provide the Marin Access paratransit services in Marin County, ”said Gray.
Gray previously said the contract could have been appealed to the Federal Transit Administration, but Vivalon spokeswoman Jennifer Golbus said the research needed would be too costly for the association.
“After careful deliberation and consultation with trusted advisors, we have concluded that the right decision for Vivalon and for those we serve is to focus on a smooth transition of paratransit services to Transdev,” said Golbus.
The paratransit contract is Vivalon’s largest, representing approximately $ 5 million of its $ 11 million operating budget. Most of the revenue is used to operate the paratransit service, but about $ 500,000 is used for other programs, which will force the nonprofit to find a new source of funding, Gray said.
Marin Transit staff and board members justified the decision to award the contract to Transdev based on federal restrictions on tendering. The Federal Transit Administration demands “fair and open competition” and prohibits agencies from favoring or excluding non-local bidders, said Nancy Whelan, executive director of Marin Transit.
A selection panel made up of Marin Transit employees and consultants rated Vivalon and Transdev in different categories, Transdev having finally obtained the best rating. Categories included project understanding, experience and qualifications; work plan and approach; innovation; and the granting of bonuses for bilingual staff.
Vivalon obtained a score lower than that of Transdev in terms of understanding, qualification and experience of the project; work plan and approach; and innovation. Gray said the categories were the most subjective.
Transdev said it would offer all Vivalon drivers a job with the company. Golbus said Vivalon hopes many of its drivers will stay with the nonprofit to work in its Vivalon Rides service, which will provide medical rides, specialized transportation, shuttles and other services.
“In addition to transportation, we have enormous opportunities to continue to serve our community with the many programs at Vivalon that impact the health and vitality of seniors and people with disabilities,” Golbus said. “We are particularly excited about the opening of our Healthy Aging Campus at the end of 2023. Vivalon has a very bright future as Marin’s hub for healthy aging. “
Whelan said Vivalon and Transdev have been “very cooperative” in the transition.
“There has been a lot of talk about this change,” Whelan said. “We all want everything to go well. We want to continue working with Vivalon. They are a highly respected partner in our community. We will continue to serve the same people and we want to partner with them in the future. It’s an important part of that relationship here.