After hearing testimony for a little more than three hours from Laidlaw Transit, MesAbility representatives and a handful of Grand Valley Transit Riders, the Board of Mesa County Commissioners voted unanimously to name Laidlaw Transit as the new operator of GVT.
As GVT's new operator, Laidlaw Transit promises to wash the buses five times a week instead of just two like MesAbility proposed. They will also install drive cams so that activity inside and outside of the buses can be monitored. And they plan to always have corporate expertise available. County Commissioner Craig Meis says that while these features are added incentive, the fact that Laidlaw's bid came in $1.8 Million less than it's opponent was reason enough to award them the contract.
MesAbility says their bid was significantly higher because they also provide transit service to Head Start and senior citizen assistance programs like Grey Gourmet and Senior Shopping. Tom Fisher says if MesAbility can not continue to provide these non-profits with service, the county will find someone who can.
Laidlaw officials say they plan to hire 29 to 33 full time employees, most of them will be current MesAbility employees. Laidlaw says they plan to provide them with similar health benefits and honor seniority. However MesAbility Chairman Fred Eggleston says more than likely ten people could be laid off. Doug Gies with Laidlaw says Laidlaw's staffing levels are not the same as MesAbility's and doesn't require as many employees.
The biggest difference in the two companies' proposals was in proposed management costs and overhead. MesAbility's proposed costs were 70 % higher than Laidlaw's.