Need for better data reporting raised in public hearing on Request for Proposals to manage Cobb County’s public transit system

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Prior to the regular business meeting of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning, a public hearing was held regarding an upcoming Request for Proposals (RFP) for a private company to manage the operations, maintenance and administrative support for CobbLinc, the county’s public transit service.

During public comment, Matthew Stigall, a member of Cobb County’s Transit Advisory Board (TAB), but speaking for himself, raised the issue of whether the RFP includes accountability on data reporting standards for the company hired to manage CobbLinc.

“At issue today is an RFP that has not been released publicly yet,” he said. “So we’re kind of running blind as far as what’s in that RFP.”

“But I’ll keep my comments grounded in my experience as a board member of the TAB for about the past year, and my experience of managing operations..” Stigall said.

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“There are two critical elements for success. One is clearly defined goals metrics, and number two is accurate and available data to ensure that the department is achieving its operational goals,” he said. “Unfortunately, my experience this year on the Transit Advisory Board is that the current operations with the current provider are lacking in those two critical areas.”

“Ridership data is opaque and incorrect. Basic questions about staffing and operational impacts go unanswered often, and I’m envious of the data and insight that is often provided when MARTA shares her quarterly reports.”

“Things need to change if we want to expand and grow transit successfully in the future,” he said. “I’m hopeful that this new RFP allows us as a county to enter into a partnership where operational goals and objectives are clearly defined in the data and analysis to ensure the transparency and oversight is required.”

“An RFP which includes this, combined with the department that has the resources and leadership to hold the chosen third party accountable will provide a foundation for future growth and investment in transit in this county,” Stigall said.

First Transit, Inc. currently provides those services for CobbLinc, and their contract will run through June 30, 2023.

After public comment was completed, Cobb DOT Agency Director Drew Raessler said that the RFP was 90 percent complete, but that a new transit division manager for the county had been hired, and that the new manager would review the RFP before it’s passed on to the BOC.

“Our intermodal deputy director has spent a significant amount of time with the transit staff and TAB to identify where the deficiencies currently are in terms of reporting and accountability,” Raessler said. “Many of those have been incorporated into the draft RFP document thus far. And then once the new transit division manager has a chance to review that, then we’ll be able to issue that and share it more publicly.”

Here is a copy of the agenda item for this morning’s public hearing, submitted by Raessler to Dr. Jackie R. McMorris, County Manager:

PURPOSE
To conduct a public hearing regarding the Request for Proposals for the operations, maintenance, and
administrative support services for CobbLinc, a service of the Transit Division.

BACKGROUND
The operation, maintenance, and administrative support of CobbLinc, a service of the Department’s Transit Division, is undertaken through a multi-year contract with a private firm.


On February 28, 2017, the Board of Commissioners approved a five-year contract with two one-year renewal options with First Transit, Inc., to provide complete operations, maintenance, and administrative support services for CobbLinc. The initial term of the contract terminated on June 30, 2022.

On May 10, 2022, the Board approved an Extension and Amendment to the Transit System Award Agreement with First Transit, Inc., exercising the first one-year renewal option for complete operations, maintenance, and administrative support services for CobbLinc, effective July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.


Also on May 10, 2022, the Board authorized the advertisement for and conduct of a public hearing for the
operations, maintenance, and administrative support services for CobbLinc. The Board also authorized the issuance of a Request for Proposals to secure the required transit services. Notice of Public Hearing was advertised in the Marietta Daily Journal on June 10, 17, and 24, 2022.

IMPACT STATEMENT
N/A
FUNDING
N/A
RECOMMENDATION
The Board of Commissioners conduct a public hearing regarding the Request for Proposals for the operations, maintenance, and administrative support services for CobbLinc, a service of the Transit Division.

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