Westchester County on Sept. 23 formally issued a RFP for the operation of its 59-route Bee-Line bus system, possibly as early as January 2014, County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced.
The RFP covers two service areas: the 56 routes currently operated by Liberty Lines and the three routes currently operated by PTLA in the Peekskill area. Responses are due Nov. 22, with expectation the awards will be made by the end of the year.
“Our Bee-Line bus system is Westchester County’s transportation backbone, serving about 100,000 riders a day,” said Astorino. “The RFP is designed to do two things: ensure dependable service and make sure we get it at the best price possible for riders and taxpayers.”
The new contract(s) will be for five years. Companies can submit proposals for the 56-route portion of the Bee-Line system or the three-route portion. If a company is interested in operating all 59 routes, it must submit two separate proposals.
In the event that a new company is selected for the larger contract, the county has been given authorization from the Federal Transportation Administration to ask Liberty Lines to manage the system under a bridge contract for up to one year to ensure a smooth transition to the new operator.
The Bee-Line bus system works this way:
• The county owns the buses, other vehicles and equipment, the Central Maintenance Facility in Yonkers and the Cerrato Satellite Bus Facility in Valhalla.
• The county establishes fares and determines routes. However, the Bee-Line system is part of the MetroCard fare structure. Bee-Line fares typically mirror MetroCard fares set by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to facilitate uniform pricing for the region.
• The county hires private companies, currently Liberty Lines and PTLA, to operate the Bee-Line system and facilities with their own employees.
Liberty Lines, which has been a county operator since the mid 1970s, has asserted that it has certain franchise rights with respect to the Bee-Line bus system and would be entitled to compensation should it not be awarded the contract.