NC: Greensboro City Council Backs Bus Contract Decision

June 04--GREENSBORO -- After weeks of appeals and legal arguments, the city has a new bus contract.

The City Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to award the three-year, $45.7 million contract to Veolia Transportation Services, a French company which has managed the city's bus system since 1999.

The decision was actually made weeks ago by the Greensboro Transit Authority Board, but that decision was challenged by a losing bidder, First Transit.

First Transit argued that the eight-member selection committee received faulty information during the process and that the flawed system produced an "arbitrary and capricious" result.

That's an argument the transit authority's board didn't accept last week when it rejected First Transit's appeal.

After two hours of arguments from both sides Tuesday night, the City Council -- which makes the final decision -- upheld the transit authority board's ruling.

"I appreciated both arguments, and it did raise some questions," Councilman Zack Matheny said. "But I think the process was fair."

Councilwoman Sharon Hightower had some questions about the bidding process, but she said she ultimately felt the transit authority board had done its due diligence.

"I think we need to trust our evaluation and selection committee," High tower said.

Councilman Tony Wilkins was the lone vote against upholding the transit authority's decision.

The council also heard from groups concerned about funding cuts Tuesday night at the first public hearing of the new budget season.

The focus of those who came to speak: the 10 percent across-the-board cut for nonprofit groups that the city funds -- particularly the Greensboro Children's Museum.

"Our presence and offerings are critical since there are only 2,000 days between when a child is born and when they show up for kindergarten," said Marian King, the chief executive officer of the Children's Museum.

King said the museum is available to all Greensboro children -- regardless of their ability to pay.

Under the proposed cut, Greensboro's funding for the museum would go from $75,000 a year to $67,500.

The council will continue to debate the cuts before it adopts a final budget, which must be done by July 1.

Contact Joe Killian at (336) 373-7023, and follow @JoeKillianNR on Twitter.

Copyright 2014 - News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.