FAIRFIELD (CBS SF/BCN) — A multi-million dollar contract for transit operations in Solano County could go to a new provider, as the Solano County Transit (SolTrans) Board of Directors votes Thursday whether to end an eight-year relationship with its current vendor.

SolTrans staff is recommending the board approve a five-year contract with Transdev Services Inc., which includes five one-year options that can extend the life of the contract through June 30, 2031. Transdev has over 200 contract operations throughout the nation, with many of those agreements in California, staff added.

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If approved by the board, Transdev will take over operations on July 1, which will cost the transit agency about $9.1 million for fiscal 2021-22. The 10-year budget estimate over the life of contract is about $120 million.

A SolTrans bus (SolTrans)

Five transit operators responded to a request for proposals put out by SolTrans last year. During an extensive review of the proposals, transit staff concluded that National Express LLC, (NEXT), the current transit service provider for SolTrans, scored in the middle of the pack, failing to reach the required 80% range necessary for consideration.

Each of the five transit vendors submitted a proposal outlining fixed and variable costs. NEXT came in last place, proposing that SolTrans pay $156 million over the next 10 years, which was outside SolTrans’ budget, John Sanderson, SolTran’s transit service manager, wrote in the staff report.

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National Express was selected to provide transit operations for Solano County Transit in 2013 — two years after the agency was created. SolTrans provides transit services for the cities of Vallejo and Benicia.

Sanderson praised Transdev for providing ongoing professional development for managers and supervisors in the organization.

“This will ensure that motivated personnel working on the SolTrans contract have access to opportunities for advancement and will help retain and enhance institutional knowledge by creating a sustainable development pipeline for new leaders,” said Sanderson in a staff report to the board.

Sanderson further applauded Transdev for having “extensive experience maintaining and managing electric bus fleets, which will be critical to SolTrans’ success during the new contract term as the SolTrans Operations and Maintenance Facility is built out with electric charging infrastructure and SolTrans transitions to an all-electric local fleet.”

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The Solano County Transit Board of Directors will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday, via teleconference.