The county's Rural Transit Fixed Route Commuter Bus Program will experience some changes because a new company will take over its management.
Commissioners Court on Monday voted unanimously to hire First Transit, Inc., the company that oversees the city's bus services, to manage the county's seven-bus fleet.
An average of 5,500 people use the county's fixed routes every month, said Bob Geyer, manager of El Paso County Transit Department.
There are four routes that serve communities like Tornillo, Fabens, Montana Vista, Clint, Canutillo, Anthony, Vinton and the colonias, Geyer said.
The bus program is currently managed by Project Amistad, but that contract will expire soon, said Kennie Downing, the county's purchasing agent.
The county is offering First Transit a three-year contract for no more than $953,000 annually. The contract may be renewable on a year-to-year basis for two additional years. The program is paid for by federal and state grants.
Downing said before making the recommendation to Commissioners Court on Monday, the purchasing department sent the bid to 13 companies and received three responses.
First Transit was the most qualified company and the lower bidder, followed by Industrial Bus Lines and Project Amistad, she said.
Downing said a committee evaluated the proposals based on organizational experience, staff experience, references, safety record and cost.
Commissioners Court is expected to approve a contract between the county and First Transit in the next couple of weeks.
Geyer said Project Amistad has provided an excellent service to the county, but its bid was considerable expensive compared with First Transit's. County documents show Project Amistad offered an $88.40 hourly rate, while First Transit offered a $59.57 rate.
County Commissioner Vince Perez, who represents many of the county's incorporated areas, said public transportation is very important to the people who live in these areas.
The fixed route is a main source of transportation for many people in the Lower Valley and the Montana Vista area, he said.
Perez said that as county neighborhoods continue to become more urban, the county is going to have to re-examine the bus service and possibly add more routes to the program. Information: www.epcounty.com/transit/
Aileen B. Flores may be reached at 546-6362.