SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — The Marin County Transit District’s Board of Directors on Monday morning unanimously approved a new four-year agreement for local bus service with Golden Gate Transit.

The board decided against seeking bids for a private vendor to provide the local bus service. Golden Gate Transit, part of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, carries 92 percent of Marin County Transit’s customers. The partnership began 40 years ago.

Golden Gate Transit also is the exclusive provider of regional bus service from Marin to San Francisco, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties.

Under the new agreement, which is retroactive to July 1, 2012, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District will charge the Marin County Transit District $120 per hour, 10 percent less than the current contract, estimated at $16 million a year.

The Bridge District also will lower the annual cost escalation rate from 5 percent to 2.7 percent, and lower the number of annual hours of service to the Marin County Transit District by 25 percent, from 120,000 to 90,000.

Bridge District spokeswoman Mary Currie said between 25 and 30 Golden Gate Transit employees could lose their jobs depending on the bus routes that will be eliminated under the new agreement with Marin County Transit.

If a private vendor was selected to provide local bus service, 130 Golden Gate Transit employees could have lost their jobs, according to the Bridge District.

Marin County Transit faces deficits at the end of the 4-year contract on June 30, 2016, Marin County Transit District general manager David Rzepinski said. He said negotiations with the Bridge District on another contract renewal should start in two years.

David Schonbrunn, president of Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, advised the Marin Transit board to solicit bids from private vendors. He said a renewal of the agreement will only “stop the bleeding temporarily.”

“You’re at a dead end with Golden Gate Transit,” he said.

After the vote Schonbrunn said the board’s action was “more politics than an action on behalf of the riders.”

Noble Birdsey, of the Marin Center for Independent Living for the disabled, said Marin County Transit District’s deficits will grow to $4 million by the end of the 4-year-conract.

“They’re $500,000 over budget now,” Birdsey said.

Board member Madeline Kellner acknowledged the Marin Transit District will be dipping into its reserve funding by the end of the contract, but she called the agreement a compromise between the two districts.

Board member and Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice said the new contract “gets the Marin District out of the red.”

She said both districts have an obligation to reduce congestion on U.S. Highway 101.

“This is a good day for Marin Transit and Golden Gate Transit,” Rice said.

Board Member and Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams, who with Rice and Kellner negotiated the new contract with the Bridge District, praised the relationship between the two districts and said the agreement is something the board wants “even if we have to pay a premium price.”

Board member and Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey said both districts have their differences but also share interests.

“We’ve had reliable service and dedicated bus drivers,” Kinsey said.

The renewed agreement is “fiscally responsible for us and fiscally manageable for the Golden Gate Bridge District,” Kinsey said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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