bus privatize, 3/14/13

People board the Fairfield and Suisun Transit route 3 bus at the Fairfield Transportation Center, Thursday evening. The bus service is operated by MV Transportation. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)


Records: Contractor struggles to deliver public bus service

By From page A1 | March 15, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Cash-strapped cities embracing private contractors as saviors of their public transportation systems may find a cautionary tale in Fairfield.

The city was the headquarters of MV Transportation, a rising star in public transit outsourcing. But the company failed to deliver the bus service it promised its hometown, emails, documents and interviews show.

Between 2008 and 2010, the company was fined 295 times by local transit officials for poor performance, including too many accidents, missed bus runs and late buses.

More of the story

The use of private contractors has grown dramatically in California. Contractors ran 223 million miles of bus and train service in the state in 2011, a 42 percent increase in a decade, according to the National Transit Database. Last year, they picked up 166 million riders in California, up 29 percent. Government-run public transit systems still carried far more riders last year with 1.2 billion, a slight dip from a decade ago.

Even in the Bay Area, a stronghold of public employee unions, officials are more eagerly considering outsourcing public transit to save money. Alameda County is mulling contracting out bus routes in the growing suburbs of Fremont and Newark, managed for decades by AC Transit. Last summer, Marin County officials considered outsourcing bus service to a private company, deciding against it only when the public agency cut its price to compete.

More …

The story was produced by California Watch, a part of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Learn more at californiawatch.org. Contact the reporter at [email protected]

Zusha Elinson


Discussion | 29 comments

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  • Sweet 'Ol BobMarch 15, 2013 - 8:23 am

    Zusha- How come the entire text of your article is not on line? The full printed version is very interesting...particularly the last paragraph!

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 15, 2013 - 8:45 am

    Bob, it is. Look at the links in the "More of the Story" box.

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  • FredMarch 15, 2013 - 9:00 am

    Fairfield politics at its finest...I've been pointing this out for years especially when it comes to Moy & Mraz...And how much did FF Fire & Police constantly donate to their campaign as well?!...Hmmm...About the same as MV...

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  • adsfsdMarch 15, 2013 - 8:25 am


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  • FredMarch 15, 2013 - 9:07 am

    Oh and it's kinda funny how MV moved its headquarters from Fairfield California to Texas...

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 15, 2013 - 9:21 am

    Fred, not sure what the move to Texas has to do with any of this? Nobody looks good in this story. From my perspective, a lot of this could have been avoided if Fink's out-of-control bureaucracy would have been dealt with sooner.

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  • FredMarch 15, 2013 - 9:53 am

    Fink's ta blame...LOL...The guy with his hands tied behind his back?!...You bin talkin with yur buddy...But I do agree that no one comes out smellin like roses with this one...

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 15, 2013 - 9:58 am

    Fred, I'm not saying Fink's to blame, it's just he was the first person in the chain of events. Who's my buddy?

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  • FredMarch 15, 2013 - 11:03 am

    You Posted “Fink's out-of-control bureaucracy “. Guess you missed this part “Fink was a rigid manager who always stuck to the letter of the law” and this part “Monson and other executives began to meet directly with the City Council instead of city transit staff” and this part “Often, local issues are discussed and resolved without the input of transit staff by the City Manager’s office, City Council, and MV executives.”

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 15, 2013 - 11:08 am

    If you look in the full report, you'll see that Fink was not following best practices.

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  • FredMarch 15, 2013 - 2:33 pm

    Can you enlighten me on how you came to this conclusion, cuz I don't see it...Allowing a contractor to circumvent proper channels as council & the city manager’s office did, is that following best practices?

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 16, 2013 - 7:26 am

    Fred, read the accompanying story, "Study details city, MV Transportation relationship." I know you like to believe that elected official are inherntly evil and government can never be trusted. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, particularly when issues are sensationalized like this story was. Do some research and you'll start to get a picture of the personal vendetta that Fink and his wife had against MV. I'm not saying MV doesn't have issues, but there's a lot more to this story and I seriously question that there was any inpropriety by Quinn or the council.

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  • FredMarch 16, 2013 - 9:37 am

    OK, now it's the wife's fault...I think most people here can see how local politics & campaign donations (& even a round of golf) play out here (& pay out).

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 16, 2013 - 9:41 am

    People believe what they want to believe.

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 17, 2013 - 6:53 am

    Fred, I assume you read Glen's editorial in today's paper? Your thoughts?

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  • FredMarch 17, 2013 - 9:41 am

    I would say that since $127k of the fines stuck it proves Fink was right. Since Fink is no longer there & there is a now in place a system that is more beneficial to MV & it's wallet I would say it’s good to have connections in city hall. Now if you think that MV has made that great of an improvement & that campaign donations don't come into play when chasing the all mighty dollar you're fooling yourself...

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  • FredMarch 17, 2013 - 9:44 am

    But then, you believe what you want to believe...

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  • LlwilMarch 15, 2013 - 10:46 am

    For the benefit of those that did not read further into the report I quote: "Documents and interviews reinforce Fink’s allegations that the Fairfield City Council and his bosses frequently intervened. " There was a city council person that is no longer on the city council who got A LOT of $$ for his campaign. Draw your own conclusions connect the dots...I read the bios for the current city council and I can only hope that things get better with the current city council. I have spoken to a former employee of MV (a whistle blower who was fired) and my son worked for them in North Carolina. They are really a poorly run company. MV needs to go! Our citizens deserve better!

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  • LlwillMarch 15, 2013 - 11:09 am

    According to the Q and A included in the article, former City Council Person Chuck Timm, current Councilman John Mraz and City Councilwoman Catherine Moy each got $10,000 in camapign donations from MV. Enough said!

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  • KerriMarch 15, 2013 - 6:13 pm

    I read that too, You can bet Moy and Mraz was probably the councilmembers calling city staff to back down on holding this company responsible.

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  • FredMarch 15, 2013 - 9:09 pm

    Let' note forget Timm. He has said he would run for council again...

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  • Tony NaramoreMarch 15, 2013 - 11:51 am

    Anytime you have a private company like MV obtaining a government contract you can be fairly certain that some sort of "legal" corruption will be involved. In this case, political donations to politicians to get elected so they can hand out political "favors" to the contractor who in turn...you get the point. Doubt that? Just look at what the Public Employees Unions are doing to this state.

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  • TonyMarch 15, 2013 - 12:02 pm

    Subsidized transit systems are a pet peeve of mine anyway. I have watched these buses run around Fairfield and Suisun nearly empty sucking up taxpayer $$$ for the last 40 and now this fiasco just adds more fuel to the fire. But at the same time I cannot see why we have an extensive school bus fleet when kids could be riding the city buses to and from school each day. As a kid in the East Bay, I rode AC transit to school everyday until my Junior year of High School and the kids got a big discount on the fare. Am I wrong?

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  • StRMarch 15, 2013 - 12:10 pm

    Many Kids in the Vacaville School Ditrict ridethe city buses. A lot of the problem is again the Agenda 21, ICKLI (spelling), Carb reduction bogus stick and carrot stuff, that a city has to have a bus system to qualify for "free" federal money and other organizations give cities money with lots of strings attached. Like Mr. Sanchez said of Suisun that bascially if it cost Suisun 18K to get a 163K ?Federal grant for another study about relinking Suisun and Fairfield ie opening up that street again, then he was going to take it. See carrot and stick and alot of wasteful spending.

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  • StR This operates quite well in TurkeyMarch 15, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    Google....Turkish Dolmush (Shared Taxi or Minibus)

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  • Rich GiddensMarch 15, 2013 - 8:58 pm

    STR---do you really think a Dolmus system would work in horrible cities like Detroit, Oakland or Suisun? Nobody would want to get in one for fear of being kidnapped, robbed or worse!

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  • Councilmembers should be recalledMarch 15, 2013 - 5:59 pm

    This is exactly what transit riders have been complaining about for years..this contractor has been absolutely horrible in providing service to Fairfield residents...and instead of being forced to improve they simply call in their campaign donation credits they have with councilmembers so they can continue to operate like manure. Any councilmember that took money from this firm should be recalled.

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  • Ride the 90March 15, 2013 - 10:07 pm

    I don't like that the citizens are playing the fool in all of this while certain members of the FF city council and MV Transportation make off with the money with little reason to be accountable. There are 2 kinds of power in this world -- money power and people power. Guess who's winning this one in Fairfield. we have such a great city but it's being eroded by petty city officials who should've been raising red flags BEFORE the privatization. We all need to do our part and demand accountability. We need GOOD public transportation (support the unions!) to get Fairfield folks to their jobs so they can then bring the money back to the community.

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  • MV only cares about making money.March 16, 2013 - 6:20 pm

    It doesn't matter if it's city residents trying to ride safe city transportation or it's their own drivers...this company appears to put the all mighty dollar first. This story appeared just this last August, it appears their own employees even have to sue to get the pay they feel their entitled too. http://www.dailyrepublic.com/news/crimecourts/bus-drivers-file-federal-lawsuit-against-mv-transportation/

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