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Advisory Board Meeting Minutes

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) Advisory Board met on Monday, April 21, 2015 at 4:30 pm, at 15 Blandin Avenue, Framingham, MA, at the call of Mr. Joe Nolan, Chair.

In attendance were: Edward Carr/MWRTA Administrator, Patrick Moynihan/MWRTA Counsel, Joe Nolan, Chair/Wayland, Kathleen Bartolini/Southborough, Ed Burman/Ashland, Deb Galloway/Sudbury, Ellen Gibbs/Wellesley, Charlie Hughes/Natick, Patricia Pope/Marlborough, Jason Smith/Framingham, Toni Wolf/Weston.

Also in attendance were MWRTA Consultants: Lynn Ahlgren and John Glynn

MWRTA Staff: Eva Willens, Carl Damigella, Joy Glynn and Sara White.

Community: Lloyd Kaye of Framingham.

The meeting began at 4:40 pm.

Mr. Nolan declared a quorum was present.

Minutes of the previous meeting:

A motion was made by Joe Nolan to waive the reading of and approve the previous minutes as stated.

Second by: Ed Burman – No opposition The vote was unanimous.

Administrator’s Report:

The Authority is poised to exercise our option with First Transit, for their final year of the Fixed Route contract. First Transit will continue to operate Fixed Route out of Waverly facility.

Demand Response Services (DRS) - A vote of the Board is needed to enter into a contract with Kiessling Transit, Inc. Our plan is to kickoff DRS on July 1st from the Blandin Ave facility.

Blandin has had a few necessary change orders that have slightly delayed our move.

MWRTA plans to sell the Waverly facility next year and put those funds into Blandin Ave.

CNG – developing RFP & expect to have it out before summer, we have a preliminary plan, working on design & engineering now; CNG provider who will build the facility should be on board by the winter.

Six new Fixed Route buses will be arriving in about a month and 13 Demand Response vehicles, which will bring our fleet up to good shape, with oldest vehicles being approximately 3 years old.

Banana Lot negotiations with the MBTA have been delayed, yet are still on-going. MBTA RIDE takeover for Wellesley, Weston & Dover expected FY16, pending direction from MBTA.

Central Reservations: Sudbury will come on board next month, with Dover and Natick to follow. Southborough is also interested in being part of Central Reservations.

Comments from the Board:

Charlie Hughes requested that the minutes, director’s report, budgets and attachments are received by the Board, at least one day prior to the Advisory Board Meeting.

Joe Nolan: Noted and moved.

Old Business:

Administrator Evaluation: The Chair moved the Evaluation Subcommittee report to the June meeting. Jay Marsden, Kathy Bartolini & Ed Burman to meet prior to June Advisory Board meeting so they can provide a report for the board at the June Advisory Board meeting.


The board was asked by Mr. Carr to approve the Town of Milford joining the MWRTA. He stated that there is no effect on the MWRTA budget at this time. The Milford board needs to appoint a designee to the Advisory Board and he assumes it may be Harold Rhodes, Chair of the Milford Disability Commission.

Board comments:

Jason Smith and Charlie Hughes again, expressed concern regarding Milford’s effect on the budget without any fiscal obligation.

Joe Nolan: The objective of the MWRTA is to service riders. We will let them know there will be a fee associated with any additional service. They will also need to appoint a designee to the board and before we do additional service, they will have to contribute funding.

Ed Carr: MWRTA provides service going into downtown Milford in the morning and we come back in the evening with those people that we picked up in the morning. The incremental cost of service from Milford to the Holliston line is paid for by the fares from that Milford ridership. We do not give them anything else. That is the justification for providing the service. These customers have been riding the service for 7 years. Mr. Carr stated that transportation by its very nature is regional, by having Milford become a part of the MWRTA it makes the RTA stronger, it opens up the Blackstone Valley (i.e., Millis, Medway who are screaming for transportation options). From the political perspective, there are people there that really need this service and they now have an advocate pushing for it (Harold Rhodes), Chair of the Milford Disability Commission and Trustee of Milford Hospital.

Kathy Bartolini: Doesn’t Milford help our ride count? Mr. Carr: Yes.

Patrick Moynihan: Majority vote by the Board is required to allow them to join the RTA. If Mr. Smith abstains, there has to be enough votes by the other members to bring it over the quota.

29.40 is the total # in attendance. Framingham vote is 12.02.

A motion was made by Toni Wolf to allow Milford’s membership into the MWRTA.

Second by: Debra Galloway, No opposition – One abstention (Trish Pope/Marlborough) The vote was unanimous.

Carl Damigella: We are making inroads with the Town of Milford. Dana Faber Cancer Center is now located at the Milford Hospital. Mr. Rhodes is on the board. Mr. Rhodes is very active in pursuing a Fixed Route in the Town of Milford. The Town wants the residents to be able access a Fixed Route. Joe Nolan: Duly noted

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee:

Ed Carr: On behalf of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee, we would like to place a Veterans 8-9 foot bronze statue, on top of granite stone, which will include the names on the wall in Washington DC from the 15 MWRTA member communities. This will be a living monument and will include a waterfall. NSTAR will remove the wires going across that area. The Monument Committee has a website and has been approached by 3 legislators who want to underwrite some of the cost of this project. Although we would rather see it come from private donations, there will be no MWRTA funds used for this. Anyone can purchase pavers. This is modeled after the 911 monument in Natick.

A motion was made by Charlie Hughes to approve the Veterans Monument at Blandin Ave.

Second by: Jason Smith No opposition The vote was unanimous.

Preliminary Budget

Ed Carr: In June, the Auditor requested the budget reflect the actuals, we will amend the FY15 budget at that time and approve a FY16 budget with ~3% increase. Model will change a bit with new Demand Response Services contract; Maintenance will come in house; Hourly contract for DRS will do more trips per hour and along with the maintenance it should save the MWRTA money. This should drive the numbers down a bit.

Charlie Hughes: Budget question: What is the difference between 3rd and 4th column?
John Glynn: Comparing the actual budget to the proposed budget and last years to current.

Ed Carr: We are running 2.67 over budget. JARC 7 / 7C grant ran out. Westborough, Wellesley and Vets grants will run out next year. We will be pursuing more grants.

Joe Nolan: I notice the fuel column, is there anything else we need to be aware of?

Ed Carr: No.

Toni Wolf: Why are we proposing more Demand Response Services for the next year?

Ed Carr: Natural growth.

Moving to Blandin – we hope to get another 2-3% in savings.

Toni Wolf: Why are you anticipating an increase Local Assessments?

Ed Carr: New service and a new model + 2 ½ allowable increase.

John Glynn: Expected 2.5% increase.

A motion was made by Ed Burman to approve the preliminary budget.

Second by: Jason Smith No opposition The vote was unanimous.

Analysis of Fares - Restructuring

Ed Carr: Asked the board to vote for a slight increase to our heavily discounted Adult Charlie Card Fare.

Adult Fare has been $1.50 for 7 years. Charlie Card discounted is $1.10. 60% of our riders use the Charlie Card (very successful) yet also created an issue with people using nickels and dimes, holding up the bus schedule. Suggesting increase by 15cents, to bring it up to $1.25. Additional revenue and help to eliminate backups as well as eliminating the nickels and dimes.

Mr. Carr asked the board to vote to incrementally increase heavily discounted Charlie Card from $1.10 to $1.25 effective July 1, 2015 and all other fares would remain the same.

Propose to put in a 5 year plan to incrementally increase fares to be @ $2.00. Outreach/Public meetings will be done to get the word out to ridership.

Joe Nolan: Our overall fare is competitive.

Charlie Hughes: Raise only the Adult Charlie Card?

Ed Carr: Yes.

Toni Wolf: You can use the Charlie Card and cash, Load the card to get the discount?

Ed Carr: Yes

Ed Berman: Is there another place to load the card?

Ed Carr: We currently use the fare box in our entrance, also convenient to load the card on the bus. Kiosks would be cost prohibited at this time.

A motion was made by Jason Smith to incrementally increase the MWRTA Adult Charlie Card fee from $1.10 to $1.25, effective July 1, 2015. All other fares will remain the same.

Second by: Charlie Hughes – No opposition The vote was unanimous.

Demand Response Services (DRS) Contract:

Introduction of Lars Kiessling, of Kiessling Transit.

Patrick Moynihan: MWRTA went out to bid on DRS for both a per trip and hourly basis. Current contract is on a per trip basis. The RFP was put together in the latter part of 2014 and was issued on 1/5/2015; 14 companies took out the bid docs; 1/21/15 pre-proposal bid meeting was held at 37 Waverly Street where 8 companies participated (questions and clarifications were answered in writing to all the participants); 4 addenda were issued following the pre-proposal bid meeting; information concerning the current trip rates, current service demand, vehicle and trip usage, revised price proposal form; additional written questions were allowed to come in up to 1/28; 2/5 issued supplemental on initial questions that were asked, as well as answers to those questions that we received in writing. Those were all provided to the bidders under a separate addenda; we extended due date from original due date of 2/2 to 3/2 at the request of both Thompson Transit and Kiessling Transit. On 3/2 four proposals were received from Thompson Transit (current ADA operator), SMOC, Kiessling Transit and Busy Bee (current Dial~A~Ride operator).

The DRS 3 member Evaluation Committee consisted of: Eva Willens/Chair, Sara White and Patrick Moynihan. Joy Glynn and John Glynn provided the committee with staff support for the review of the proposals and various components.

The committee’s responsibility was to review the initial proposals for completeness. All but one of the proposals was deemed to be complete by the committee. Busy Bee was unfortunately, disqualified because the failure to submit the Price Proposal Form that was considered to be a major oversight. The committee was then charged with reviewing the remaining proposals in detail and to score proposals to determine which of the proposals, based on evaluation criteria, have a reasonable chance of being selected, as in the Federal process and the process that the MBTA uses, those within the competitive range.

The Evaluation Criteria was:

50 points – Cost

30 points – Experience

10 points – Resources

10 points – References

After review, all 3 remaining proposals were deemed by the committee to be within the competitive range and all 3 were interviewed by the committee on 3/25. After interviews and discussions with the proposers, it was decided a request for a Best and Final Offer (BAFO), was warranted. The Evaluation Committee could ask for one and the Administrator after reviewing the Evaluation Committee’s recommendation, could also ask for a second BAFO.

The Evaluation Committee voted to ask for a BAFO from the 3 finalists on the hourly rate only. The Committee deemed the hourly rate to be more economical than the per trip rate. BAFOs were received from all 3 and scoring after BAFO resulted in Kiessling as the recommended Proposer by the Evaluation Committee to the Administrator. The Administrator could have, if he chose to, essentially conducted his own process, but after reviewing the work the committee performed, and he sat in on most of the committee meetings and interviews, The Administrator selected Kiessling without further discussion with the proposers and a conditional Notice of Award was issued to Kiessling Transit, subject to the vote of the Advisory Board for approval.

Based on the weight given to cost, it really came down to lowest bid. Thompson Transit in their initial bid came in low on their hourly rate and then stated they did not understand apparently what was being requested. This resulted in their BAFO going from being low bid at $35/hour to $40/hour in their BAFO and the other 2 proposals came down. Kiessling’s BAFO resulted in an hourly rate of $39.19. They also met the other criteria relative to experience, resources and references.

Lars Kiessling was introduced and gave an overview of the company’s history. Kiessling previously operated the MBTA Ride, South Corridor from 1989 – 2009. Contracts with GATRA (Greater Attleboro Regional Transit Authority) for DRS and Fixed Routes in the Taunton area. Also some work in Worcester, Boston and Fall River areas. When this opportunity came up, it seemed like a perfect fit for Kiessling. Kiessling will do a very good job for you, we really care a lot about how we do our job, the services we provide and our business.

Joe Nolan: Does anyone have any questions? How did this stack up against what you estimated the cost would be for the service … more / less?

Ed Carr: Obviously more than I wanted it to be. As Mr. Moynihan stated, this was a very thorough, by the book process that we went through. I thought Thompson Transit had the contract, yet Thompson went up on the bid. I have done the research on Kiessling with people in the community and the transportation industry and they have an impeccable reputation in the community. Kiessling has expressed that Thompson Transit’s employees will have first preference for jobs, as Jo-Anne Thompson had requested. We have worked very closely for 7 years, she is an extremely good business woman and was concerned about her employees. We have had that discussion with Kiessling and believe it will be a seamless transition and we have 60 days to make the transition. The term of the contract is 3 years with 2 one year options.

Kathy Bartolini: There are always going to be changes with vendors providing rides. What if anything have we looked at that will make this transition seamless?

Ed Carr: MWRTA will be working out of Blandin Ave. for 60 days with Thompson Transit Inc. & Kiessling, to transition the business. MWRTA has some new vehicles available and we do the reservations internally, which is a very difficult part of the operation. For Kiessling, it is a turn-key operation. They come in with their employees and do the driving. MWRTA continues the process of providing the manifests, taking the calls/reservations, schedule the trips, the customers may be driven by the same drivers. Some management changes will occur. We supply the vehicles.

Toni Wolf: The cost analysis of $39.19/hour rate … how was it calculated?

Pat Moynihan: The detail of the numbers was provided to us, the costs that went into that rate were from overhead to profit. The numbers added up. Original bid was $39.51 and came down to $39.19.

Toni Wolf: Can you expand, how did you come up with that?

Lars Kiessling: The profit was originally at 8%. We brought it down to 7.5%. Vast majority of the cost is the driver hourly wages, which is set @ $16/hour. We have talked to Jo-Anne and know what her driver hourly wages are currently set at. I don’t see us not being able to basically hire her entire driver fleet; we have worked very well with her previously and we do a lot of work for a lot of different agencies. This is a very straight forward pricing proposal because the Authority does a vast majority of the behind the scenes work. Basically we are the same day provider. We do the dispatching, managing the drivers, road supervising.

Charlie Hughes: We give the vehicles, who maintains them and where are they garaged?

Ed Carr: We service the vehicles and they stay here at Blandin.

Deb Galloway: How many towns participate, do they all have DRS?

Ed Carr: The main towns are Natick & Framingham for ADA work. They are basically taking over the MWRIDE service. Also some Dial A Ride in Marlborough and Southborough. As we grow, some of the other pieces to this will be other providers will go into other communities.

Ed Burman: Will you have a supervisor?

Lars: Yes, there will be 2 on-site managers.

A motion was made by Ed Burman to approve the Demand Response Services Contract as a public bid award, to Kiessling Transit, Inc.

Discussion ensued.

Kiessling @ $39.19 compared to Thompson @ $40.00, what is the difference in savings? I do not understand why we are changing vendors? I have had no complaints in 5 years. Just because there was a process and a subcommittee, does not mean I approve.

Discussion with regard to the selection committee and the vote ensued.

John Glynn: The savings is $60,000/year (Based on16,000 hours); more effective for the MWRTA to bill hourly rate vs trip rate; we are currently paying $27/trip.

Kathy Bartolini: We went through a bidding process, does that mean we have to show that we took the lowest bidder, or provide a substantial reason why if we do not take the lowest bid?

Pat Moynihan/Ed Carr: Yes.

Ed Burman: If Kiessling hires the current drivers, you have to drug and alcohol-test these drivers as new hires, correct?

Lars Kiessling: Yes.

Joe Nolan: Does Framingham have absolute veto vote over this?

Charlie Hughes: Asked for those present and voting are required to get the majority.

Pat Moynihan: Yes.

Joe Nolan: Would like to note that Thompson Transit did not challenge the RFP process.

Joe Nolan: The previous motion has been withdrawn, let’s take another vote.

A motion was made by Joe Nolan to approve the Demand Response Services Contract as a public bid award, to Kiessling Transit, Inc.

Second by Jason Smith as amended, to ensure that the new contractor will work with the existing Thomspon Transit employees for equitable pay and benefits.

No opposition The vote was unanimous.

Other Business:

Outreach and Branding

Carl Damigella: Outreach and Branding has been promoting Central Reservations. We currently have Holliston on board. On May 18th we hope to get Sudbury on board and we have been working with Dover, Natick, Hudson and Southborough to get them into the program soon. Central Reservations has been our #1 priority, but we need to be cautious not to overload our Call Center before they move to Blandin Ave. We plan to revise the Wellesley Route 8 to include The Mass Bay Campus in Wellesley. The route is currently stopping at the bottom of Oakland Street @ Washington Street on Route 16. The plan is to go up Oakland Street to the Mass Bay Campus and turn around and come back and get on Washington Street, then continue on the route. This will happen 18 times a day to accommodate the students. Because they are a Community College, rather than a residential College ridership is expected. The Route 1 will not be affected.

The RTA is also working on a shuttle for Solomon Pond, as a result of a telephone call from the Property Management Group, who operates buildings on Donald Lynch Blvd. Discussions with Toni Wolf from Employment Options for her idle times, could possibly take the employees from this facility and bring them to Solomon Pond. There is only one building with a cafeteria and the employees would like to have other options. This run would provide ridership for Toni Wolf / E.O. and the MWRTA.

Board Member Comments:

Ed Burman took the opportunity to thank Eva Willens & Ed Carr and the MWRTA.
There were recently two significant Emergency Evacuations at two schools in Ashland involving handicapped children. The MWRTA buses were immediately dispatched to the scene. Thanks to the quick response of the MWRTA, everything worked perfectly, it was amazing.

The Board took the opportunity to welcome new Marlborough Representative, Trish Pope, of Marlborough Savings Bank.

Disability Community Representative:

Not in attendance.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 pm

Next meeting scheduled for June 2015 (TBD).



The undersigned being the duly qualified clerk of the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board, acknowledges that the foregoing minutes accurately reflect the actions taken at a legally convened meeting of the Advisory Board held on April 21, 2015.

Jay Marsden, Clerk

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