Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority

Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority
Columbia, South Carolina
Release Date: August 18, 2014
Due Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Time: 2:00 P.M.
Receipt Location:
The COMET Administrative Offices
ATTN: Virginia Goodson
3613 Lucius Rd., Columbia, SC 29201
Public Notice .......................................................................................................... i
Time Table .............................................................................................................. ii
Part 1: General Information & Description of Procurement Process .................... 1
A. General Information ................................................................................... 1
B. Description of Procurement Process .......................................................... 3
Part 2: Historical Background & System Overview ................................................ 6
A. The CMRTA: Historical Background ............................................................ 6
B. The COMET: Recent Developments; A System of the Future..................... 8
C. The COMET: System Overview.................................................................... 12
Part 3: Proposal Content Requirements ............................................................... 25
A. General Proposal Requirements ................................................................. 25
B. Requirements for Technical Proposal ......................................................... 26
Part 4: Scope of Work (A-S)................................................................................... 31
Part 5: Requirements for Pricing Proposal............................................................ 51
Part 6: Evaluation and Award ............................................................................... 53
A. Evaluation of RFPs....................................................................................... 53
B. Evaluation Criteria....................................................................................... 53
C. Negotiations ................................................................................................ 54
D. Award .......................................................................................................... 54
Appendix A—Required Forms
Appendix B – Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Requirements
Appendix C – Pricing Proposal Forms
Appendix D - Proposed Contract with Exhibits
Appendix E - Vision: 2020
Appendix F - Vehicle Inventory
Appendix G - Available Tools and Equipment
Appendix H - Route Information
Appendix I - Federal Clauses
Appendix J - Operations and Maintenance Facility Specifications
The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority d/b/a The COMET (“The COMET”) will accept
proposals from firms for the contracted operation and maintenance of The COMET’s fixed route
and paratransit services, which includes the Americans with Disabilities Act compliant demand
response transportation and rural transportation services.
The purpose and intent of this RFP is to enter into a multi-year contract (the “Contract”) for the
management and operation of fixed route and paratransit services. Any Contract awarded
pursuant to this RFP is subject to financial assistance grants between The COMET and the U.S.
Department of Transportation (“USDOT”), Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”), and/or the
South Carolina Department of Transportation (“SCDOT”). The Contract is subject, not only to The
COMET policies and procedures, but also to the statutes, regulations, policies and procedures of
the FTA and SCDOT.
A site visit and pre-proposal conference will be held on September 4, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. at 3613
Lucius Rd., Columbia, SC 29201.
All proposals must be submitted by Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Please reference
RFP document for submission requirements. The COMET encourages the use of recycled paper,
and where practicable, printed on both sides, for all submittals.
All proposal responses should be mailed or delivered to:
The COMET Administrative Offices
ATTN: Virginia Goodson
3613 Lucius Rd.
Columbia, SC 29201
For a copy of the RFP, please contact Ms. Virginia Goodson, Procurement Officer, at
[email protected] Please include your name, contact information,
organization you are representing, and how you want to receive a copy of the RFP.
Date and Time
August 14 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
DBE Forum
August 18
Publish/Release RFP
September 4 at 9:00 a.m.
Pre-proposal Conference and Site Visit
September 11 by 4:00 p.m.
Questions Due from bidders
September 22 by 4:00 p.m.
Answers to Questions Due to bidders
September 25 by 4:00 p.m.
Follow Up Questions Due from bidders
September 29 by 4:00 p.m.
Follow Up Answers Due to bidders
October 29 at 2:00 p.m.
Proposals Due
November 20/21
December 3
Special Board Meeting; award
December 17
Approval of Contract
April 1, 2015
Contract Implemented
1. Ethics and No Contact Policy. After issuance of this RFP, Offerors, or anyone acting directly
or indirectly on behalf of an offeror or potential offeror (“Offeror”) or a subcontractor
(“Subcontractor”) shall not discuss or submit inquiries about this RFP in any way with any of The
COMET’s employees, agents, elected or non-elected officials, or any member of the Board of
Directors (the “Board”), other than the Procurement Officer, Virginia Goodson,
[email protected] Any communication with the Procurement Officer must
be in writing, and submitted as required in this RFP. The foregoing restriction expires once the
Contract has been executed. Violation of this restriction may result in disqualification of the
Offeror for the award of the Contract, suspension or debarment, and may constitute a violation
of the State Ethics Act. The prohibition contained herein does not apply to interviews with the
Evaluation Committee, where such interviews are initiated by the Procurement Officer with an
Offeror as provided in this RFP.
2. No Liability for Costs. The COMET shall not be liable for any costs incurred by the Offeror or
any other person in connection with the preparation or submission of the proposal or any other
materials required pursuant to this RFP.
3. Accuracy and Completeness. By submitting a proposal pursuant to this RFP, the Offeror
represents that the information contained in such proposal is true, accurate and complete at the
time of submission and warrants that such information will remain true, accurate and complete
throughout the life of the procurement process and any Contract awarded Offeror pursuant to
the RFP.
4. Misrepresentation. If The COMET finds the Offeror has either knowingly misrepresented any
information or failed to provide requested information in a timely manner, this may constitute
sufficient grounds for The COMET to deem the Offeror non-responsible or non-responsive.
5. Cancellation of RFP. The COMET reserves the right to accept or reject any and all proposals
received as a result of this RFP, to negotiate with all or selected Offerors, or to cancel, in part or
in whole, this RFP if The COMET deems it to be in its best interest to do so.
6. Non-Discrimination.
a. Non-discrimination Requirement. The Offeror shall not discriminate on the basis of
race, color, creed, disability, national origin, age, ancestry, gender, veteran’s status or sexual
orientation in the performance of this RFP.
b. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Offeror agrees to comply with all
requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, USDOT regulations,
"Nondiscrimination in Federally-Assisted Programs of the USDOT, 49 CFR Part 21.
c. Equal Employment Opportunity. The Offeror may not discriminate against any
employee or prospective employee because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry,
gender, age, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran’s status and any other
protected class under the law. Such action shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
employment, upgrading, demotion or transfer, recruitment or recruitment advertising, layoff or
termination; rates of pay or other forms of compensation; and selection for training, including
apprenticeship. The Offeror shall insert the foregoing provision (modified only to show the
particular contractual relationship) in all its third party contracts associated with any Contract
resulting from this RFP, except contracts for standard commercial supplies or raw materials and
construction contracts, and shall require all such contractors to insert a similar provision in all
subcontracts, except contracts for standard commercial supplies or raw materials.
d. Access Requirements for Individuals with Disabilities. Offeror must comply with all
applicable requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101
et seq. and 49 U.S.C. § 322; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C.
§ 794; Section 16 of the Federal Transit Act, as amended, 49 U.S.C. app. § 1612; and other
applicable federal statutes, rules and regulations.
7. Term. The term of the Contract resulting from this RFP shall be up to 10 years duration,
beginning in 2015. The initial term shall be five (5) years, and The COMET, at its sole discretion,
may elect to renew the Contract for one or more years, up to five (5) additional years. Throughout
the duration of any Contract resulting from this RFP, The COMET may expand or reduce any of
its current services, or implement or discontinue any transportation services on a one-time,
temporary, and/or permanent basis. The COMET, also at its sole discretion, may cancel the
Contract as provided therein.
8. Start-up. Includes ALL preparations to begin operation of the service. All personnel shall be
hired and trained; documented procedures shall be established; an aggressive safety program
will be developed; facilities and equipment will be prepared; operator runs cut will be prepared;
and all other activities required for contractor start-up performed. All requisite plans for facility
and vehicle maintenance, safety and security, emergency response and other requirement
established in this document must be accurate and ready for implementation. The contractor
must possess or agree to procure all permits and licenses necessary for the lawful performance
of the services called for by this contract, locally and by the State of South Carolina.
9. Insurance. The contractor shall procure automobile liability and property damage liability
insurance from a company that is authorized to write insurance in the state of South Carolina and
is in good standing with the South Carolina Insurance Commissioner to protect The COMET, its
Board, officials, employees, agents and volunteers, as well as the contractor and its employees.
The contractor shall maintain limits of no less than:
Workers’ Compensation
Comprehensive General Liability
Comprehensive Auto Liability
Umbrella Liability $10,000,000
Statutory Amount
$5,000,000 - Combined Single Limit
$5,000,000 - Combined Single Limit
Combined Single Limit
The contractor shall provide The COMET with evidence of such insurance; together with an
appropriate endorsement that such insurance will not be cancelled without thirty (30) days prior
written notice to The COMET (cancellation of insurance shall constitute an event enabling the
COMET to immediately terminate the Contract resulting from this RFP).
10. Indemnification. The indemnification requirements pertaining to the Contract are included
in Appendix D.
1. Procurement Officer. Ms. Virginia Goodson is the Procurement Officer for this RFP and all
contact regarding any aspect of the RFP shall be made to Ms. Virginia Goodson. All contact is to
occur by e-mail at [email protected], except as otherwise authorized herein.
2. Site Visit and Pre-Proposal Conference. The site visit and pre-proposal conference is not
mandatory; however, it is highly recommended, especially as the Operations & Maintenance
Facility (“O&M Facility”) and operations have changed since the initial Operator request for
proposal was issued in September 2013.
A site visit and pre-proposal conference is scheduled at 9:00 a.m. EDT on September 4, 2014, at
the O&M Facility at 3613 Lucius Rd., Columbia, SC 29201. Offerors should report to the second
floor lobby of the O&M Facility for sign-in and welcome. The tour will begin promptly at 9:00
a.m. The tour will extend to the downtown Transit Center and a shuttle will be available. The
pre-proposal conference will begin promptly upon return to the O&M Facility.
Any questions that arise relating to the site visit or the RFP generally should be raised during the
pre-proposal conference at the O&M Facility. All questions asked at the pre-proposal
conference, in order to be binding on The COMET, must be reduced to writing and submitted to
the Procurement Officer for written response as provided below. Photographs may be taken
during the site visit by the Offeror but are the sole responsibility of the Offeror.
3. Submission of Questions. All questions, comments, requests for information or clarifications
regarding this RFP must be submitted as indicated below no later than 4:00 p.m., September
11, 2014. All questions, comments, requests for information or clarifications should, to the
highest degree possible, cite the specific RFP section and paragraph number(s) to which the
question refers. All questions, comments, requests for information or clarifications regarding
this RFP should include the identity of the sender, firm name, mailing address, telephone
number, and e-mail address. Email is the required method for submitting questions to
[email protected] with the subject line: “Questions: The COMET Operation/
Maintenance RFP. ” Submit questions in an easily copied format such as MS Word.
4. The COMET’s Response to Questions, Clarification and Subsequent Amendment: All
responses to questions submitted to The COMET shall be answered September 22, 2014 by 4:00
pm EDT by written amendment issued by the Procurement Officer to all persons that requested
the RFP from the Procurement Officer. No oral responses provided during the site visit or at the
pre-proposal conference are binding on The COMET.
If clarification of any answer provided by The COMET is requested, the inquiry must be made no
later than September 25, 2014 by 4:00 pm EDT and only one round (if needed) of clarification is
permitted. The COMET shall be the sole judge of whether an answer is sufficiently clear.
The COMET reserves the right to make modifications or amendments to this RFP, either at the
request of an Offeror or upon The COMET’s own initiative. If The COMET determines it is
appropriate to revise any portion of this RFP, it will issue a written amendment to the RFP.
Offerors are required to submit a signed copy of the “Receipt of Amendments” for each
amendment issued with their proposals.
If an amendment requires significant changes in the Scope of Work to be performed under the
contract, the date for receipt of proposals may be postponed at The COMET’s discretion.
5. Submission of Proposals. All proposals received become the exclusive property of The
COMET. At such time as a Contract is agreed to by the contractor and the Board, all proposals
submitted will become a matter of public record and shall be regarded as public records, with
the exception of those elements in each proposal which constitute confidential and proprietary
information or trade secrets as those terms are used in S.C. Code Ann. §§ 11-34-410 and 30-440(a)(1) and which are so marked as “TRADE SECRET,” “CONFIDENTIAL” or “PROPRIETARY.”
However, proposals which indiscriminately identify all or most of the proposal as exempt from
disclosure without justification may be released pursuant to a freedom of information request.
The COMET shall not in any way be liable or responsible to any Offeror or other person for any
disclosure of any such records or portions thereof, whether the disclosure is deemed to be
required by law, by an order of a court, or occurs through inadvertence, mistake, or negligence
on the part of The COMET or its officers, agents, or employees. Any legal costs associated with
determination of what is excluded or included in a public records request is at the expense of the
Proposals must be received at the O&M Facility by 2:00 p.m. EDT on October 29, 2014. Proposals
in response to this RFP shall be considered received at the time actually received by The COMET.
The COMET will not accept late proposals. Proposals received after the time and date set forth
in this section will be returned unopened at the Offeror’s expense. Failure to comply with any
submission requirement may result in a non-responsive proposal.
Proposals shall be submitted in two parts, the technical proposal and the pricing proposal and
shall consist of:
a. One (1) original signed unbound hard copy of the technical proposal and one (1) original
signed hard copy of the pricing proposal in an envelope marked “Price Proposal”
b. One (1) .pdf copy of the Offeror’s technical proposal on a CD or USB Drive
c. Nine (9) bound hard copies of the Offeror’s technical proposal
d. Nine (9) copies of the Price Proposals in a separate envelope clearly marked as “Price
Proposal Forms”. Pricing SHALL NOT be included in the technical proposal or on the CD
or USB drive. Failure to submit separate technical and pricing proposals will result in
rejection of the entire proposal.
Proposals shall be delivered to:
Virginia Goodson, Procurement Officer
3613 Lucius Rd.
Columbia, SC 29201
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 803.255.7137
Mark parcel as “Contracted Operation And Maintenance Of Fixed Route And Paratransit Services”
AND “Do Not Open With Regular Mail”.
6. Opening of RFPs. At the designated time for receipt of the proposals, the proposal packages
will be opened and listed for the record of receipt. The packages will be secured and made
available exclusively to the Evaluation Committee, select support staff, and legal counsel.
7. Start-up: The contractor is expected to provide a start-up timeline to The COMET’s Executive
Director within ten (10) days of the notice of Intent to Award and begin making arrangements for
Contract implementation. A weekly conference call and/or meeting will be held with the
Executive Director and others he deems necessary to maintain an effective and seamless
Contract implementation.
The public transit system was owned by South Carolina Electric & Gas (“SCE&G”) until October
2002 when SCE&G and the City of Columbia (“City”) renegotiated the terms of the Contract and
removed public transit from SCE&G ownership and responsibility. Key points of interest from the
negotiations include:
Purchase of a new fleet of 2002 Bluebird Transit Buses
Funds for the purchase of a long-term operations & maintenance facility
Operating funds for five years with a declining annual contribution thereafter. This was
established to help the public transportation program develop its own independent
dedicated funding source.
Transfer and absorption of the operating contracts already in place for fixed route and
paratransit services, held by Connex (now VEOLIA Transportation) and Laidlaw
The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority was established in 2002. The CMRTA (CMRTA
became The COMET in Spring 2013, as described later in this document) began with two
employees and a Board consisting of approximately 35 members, in order to begin formulating a
regional approach to transit services for the Central Midlands.
The COMET spent the next few years growing into its role as a transportation authority,
establishing key partnerships, expanding its financial and grants role and working to revise the
system to streamline services and effectively use the SCE&G funds. The Board worked tirelessly
to secure dedicated funding; however, the critical time period for dedicated funding was during
the nation’s economic downturn in 2008. Fiscal years 2009 & 2010 were extremely tumultuous—
local governments were unsure how they would provide operating funds to maintain the system,
as they had their own financial crisis.
During the fall of 2008, the City and Richland County formed an Ad-Hoc Interim Transit Funding
Committee to work together to formulate a plan for interim funding to support transit operations
until the November 2010 election. In January 2009, Richland County developed a funding
proposal to sustain operations through July 2011. Then, in spring 2009, a Temporary
Intergovernmental Agreement (“IGA”) was reached between the City, Richland County, and The
COMET. Under the IGA, for the time period July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011, Richland County
committed $5,600,000 in local funding and the City committed $2,000,000 in local funding to
support the operating and capital needs of The COMET. To receive the funds, the following
undertakings were required for The COMET to complete by February 2010:
Increase fares;
Pursue funding from Lexington County and its municipalities for regional service; and
Complete a Comprehensive Operational Analysis, a Park and Ride Study; and
management audit for the contracted service.
As a result of this fiscal instability, The COMET’s media coverage was unfavorable and customers
started finding alternatives to public transit. The next few years saw a slow decline in community
confidence and rider use. In 2010, Richland County Council voted to place a penny tax
referendum on the ballot. The penny-on-the-dollar tax referendum included a division of funds
between roads/bridges, greenways and transit. This referendum failed in the November 2010
The system continued its new status quo—instability. In 2011:
The final transitional funds from SCE&G would end on September 1, 2011 and no entity
would offset the $2.5M budget gap.
The COMET’s Executive Director retired, as did the General Manager of VEOLIA
Transportation. They had served The COMET for more than 15 combined years.
The Board, which had been restructured, saw a near complete turnover with new
apportionments and appointees in fall 2011, with only 11 voting members and two
advisory members.
During spring 2012, The COMET developed a revised budget document and a Balanced Budget
Service Adjustment Plan. Implemented in May 2012, the plan:
Removed more than $2.5M in operating expenses—suspending more than 40% of transit
Combined routes to form life-line loop services, reduced or eliminated expensive
suburban retail/employment routes, and eliminated Sundays and all service after 7 p.m.
Laid-off nearly 50 people, all of whom were VEOLIA Transportation contractor employees
in the operations and maintenance area (The COMET had 4 employees, not including the
General Manager employed by VEOLIA Transportation).
Cut overhead costs, reduced facilities maintenance, reduced amenities, and reduced
grants matching
The balanced budget plan financially stabilized the system, allowing for a focus on operational
improvements and planning efforts through summer 2012. In July 2012, Richland County voted
again to place a penny-on-the-dollar tax referendum on the November 2012 ballot, with transit
receiving 29% of each penny collected until the sunset of the tax: 22 years OR $1.07 billion,
whichever comes first.
The penny tax referendum passed in the November 2012 election and, after several legal efforts
to overturn the results, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the referendum results. The
COMET now has financial stability.
The tax cycle required that the new tax collections would not begin until May 1, 2013 and first
disbursement would not occur until approximately November 2013—a full year after the election
results. The Board did not want to wait a full year to begin service improvements and authorized
staff to develop a limited service restoration plan and proposed budget for those services. In
November 2012, staff held public hearings to gain a general consensus for a priority of system
improvements and developed a plan for a May 2013 launch of: expanded hours on main line
routes; increased frequencies on key routes; and expanded Saturday service. That service began
May 13, 2013 and remains in place with a few minor exceptions, such as small-scale
demonstration routes. In April 2014, the Board voted to re-introduce Sunday service to start in
May 2014.
With a dedicated funding source, the Board has moved forward to procure those services to be
described in this RFP in the “Scope of Work” section.
The COMET re-branded from CMRTA for a variety of reasons; however, the main reason was the
system demanded a name and image that reflected the identity of a bold, aggressive, forwardthinking transit system. It had to be vibrant, speak to the future and create loyalty to the system.
It had to be cool. The new brand and color scheme has been the most talked-about aspect of
transit for the past year, as most of the activity since summer 2013 has surrounded staffing,
capital procurement and system planning.
Although the transit system’s actual service has seen little growth or change since May 2013, it
is very deceptive, as The COMET has been extremely active for the past 16 months. The following
timeline of key developments in 2013/2014 will help provide and understanding of system
change and preparations for future growth:
March 2013: Supreme Court upholds Transportation Sales Tax, allowing the system to
begin implementation of system expansion.
April 2013: The Board approves new branding and name (The COMET) to coincide with
penny improvements, allowing the community to see the “before and after”.
April 2013: 6-month pilot route to Lexington County health facility begins. Not renewed
6 months later.
May 2013: The COMET launches increased weekday fixed route hours from 225 to
approximately 300. Increase in Saturday hours from 100 to 175. No Sundays.
June 2013: The COMET begins recruitment and selection of staff to prepare for system
growth and ridership expansion.
July 2013: The Board directly hires Bob Schneider from VEOLIA Transportation to be its
dedicated, full-time Executive Director beginning August 2013.
August 1, 2013: www.catchthecomet.org is launched—the new customer-focused
website is responsive to Android, iOS & desktop devices. The website gets immediate
attention, as it is the first item to display The COMET’s new and vibrant color scheme.
August 2013: The COMET launches Route #2001: Gamecock Express, a formal fixed route
operating in support of events at Williams-Brice Stadium. This is also the launch of The
COMET’s new vehicle color scheme on eight existing New Flyer buses. The color scheme
is introduced on the fleet’s interior and exterior.
September 2013: Emphasis on capital procurement for expedited spending of expiring
federal funds, as FTA identifies key grants for prompt close-out.
October 2013: Additional staff joins The COMET, including:
o Project Manager, focusing on short-term project implementation often with quick
turnaround or complex steps
o Grant-funded Travel Trainer, working to support those wanting to learn to use The
November 2013: Additional Staff joins The COMET, including:
o Grant-funded Development Coordinator, emphasizing development of pass
programs and transit use with employers and similar organizations
o Community Outreach, focusing on maintaining close ties to the community,
including neighborhood groups and public interest groups
o Rural Transportation Planner, responsible for rural transportation programs and
November 2013: Pilot route service adding additional trips on two existing Lexington
County routes begins. As of July 2014, is on a month-to-month basis while funding
partners determine their long-term funding commitment.
November 2013: Board approves purchase of 11 propane-fueled cutaway vehicles for use
on lower-demand routes. Also approves lease of propane fuel station to be installed
Spring 2014.
December – January 2013: Begin contract for construction of new office and storage
space at The COMET’s O&M Facility, allowing for expanded work space for additional
January 2014: The COMET’s final staff member, Transit Planner, responsible for route and
service development, is hired.
January - February 2014: New service planning team develops and implements “The
Northeast Flex”—a demand-driven rural service, operating within the paratransit service,
to connect users to fixed route service.
April 2014: The Board approves construction contact for maintenance bay additions and
April 2014: The Gamecock Express is approved for the 2014 event schedule.
May 2014: Full Weekend Service is launched—Sundays are back and are identical to
Saturdays, creating simplicity for users. The COMET offers free weekends through May
and free Sundays through Labor Day to promote new ridership.
May 2014: The Board approves new pass programs, including new multi-day pass options,
reduced all-day fare, elimination of transfers, and formal half-fare eligibility for multi-day
May 2014: The Board approves The COMET’s first true system expansion in the South
Columbia area, to include existing route redesign, simplification of service and extended
May 2014: New customer-oriented smartphone ride-tracking & stop prediction contract
awarded to TransLōc.
May 2014: The COMET takes delivery of its 11 new propane vehicles and begins prepping
them for revenue service.
May 2014: The COMET unveils its new, simplified and high-visibility bus stop design.
June 2014: The COMET prepares its new “Freshman Freedom” passes for distribution—
free freshman transit passes branded in cooperation with the University of South
Carolina, Benedict College, and Allen University.
June – July 2014: The COMET prepares for its first major service change, to include route
name changes, fare changes and pass availability.
June – July 2014: The COMET begins exploration of a pilot program to create a mobile
application for fare payment for potential Fall 2014 introduction.
June - July 2014: Procurement for bus stop signage materials and installation is underway
and will be installed throughout 2014-2015 as route changes take effect.
July 2014: The COMET is on Google Transit.
July 2014: Board approves new “Holiday Service”, a weekend+ service for New Year’s Day,
Memorial Day, Labor Day & Independence Day, closing only on Christmas & Thanksgiving
Day. Other than these six days, the system operates at full schedule.
August 2014: TransLōc is installed and a pilot program begins with Passport Parking, a
digital fare collection company that develops an on-line fare payment app. This allows
customers to pre-pay for transit fare by credit card.
August 2014: New “Freshman Freedom” passes are distributed, allowing incoming new
students to have unlimited access to The COMET’s fixed route system. New U-Pass is
launched, allowing ANY student in area to purchase discounted, semester-long transit
The period from August 18, 2014 through September 2, 2014 will be among the most important
days in The COMET’s history, as is reflects the first major “go live” of the Vision: 2020 plan. The
Vision: 2020 plan emphasizes identifying main arterials of the region and implementing direct,
high frequency service on those “Main Line” routes. The Main Line routes will support lowerfrequency, more neighborhood centric services including cross-town type routes, limited stop
express routes, suburban circulators routes, rural services and park-and-ride. By establishing a
diverse set of service types, The COMET is able to bring public transportation to areas that do not
have the population density to support traditional “urban mass transit” without impacting the
core of the system’s riders, the majority of whom live inside the metro core of the City and its
surrounding areas. The new service launch includes:
New & re-tooled routes to increase access to growing retail and employment corridors
with improved route frequency and hours of operation.
New routes oriented toward off-campus student-housing with a focus on high-frequency,
reliable service. The emphasis is transitioning students away from apartment-owned
shuttles to The COMET.
The Phase 1 (of 2) of “The Orbit” will be implemented—a downtown Columbia circulator
designed to reduce walk/wait time for passengers and create an internal circulator within
the downtown core.
New fare programs:
o All-day pass fare lowered from $3.50 to $3.00
o New 5-day ($12) and 7-day ($14) are introduced
o Transfers eliminated (a one-way trip w/ transfer is $3.00—customers should buy
an All-Day pass)
o Expansion of Half-fare program: The COMET ID Card allows Seniors (65+), persons
with disabilities, veterans, students, and Medicare recipients to buy ½ price multiday passes. Partner agencies may now purchase full-fare passes (no ID required)
at half-price.
TransLōc’s real-time app for ride tracking for fixed route services is “live” along with
Passport Parking’s smartphone fare payment pilot project.
The Vision: 2020 plan is included as Appendix E.
1. Core Values: The COMET’s core values for on-street operation are, in priority order:
Clean/Comfortable, and
Cost-effective transit services.
Safety is the single most important indicator of quality of transportation options. If you cannot
be safe, you cannot be reliable. Unreliable service is by nature unfriendly. Friendliness builds
customer confidence after the first trip. A clean and comfortable environment maintains their
ridership. High ridership and effective fares allows The COMET to maintain a cost-effective
service model and grow its operation.
Without SAFETY, none of this occurs. While the word “safe” or “safety” or “in consideration of
employee or passenger safety” may not be written into the paragraphs or bullet points below,
the expectation is that the Offeror will keep this in consideration and demonstrate this emphasis
throughout its proposal.
The contractor shall operate The COMET’s fixed route and paratransit services, maintaining all
vehicles and facilities, and supporting administrative functions as outlined in this RFP. The
contractor will ensure the highest quality service in compliance with the terms of any Contract
resulting from this RFP and local, state & federal laws. All services are subject to budgetary limits,
with The Board approving budgets and service levels. Subject to The COMET’s policies and
procedures, state and federal laws, all service levels are at the discretion of the Board.
2. The COMET’s Legal Structure & Functions: The COMET is a regional transportation authority
established pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 58-25-10, et seq. The governmental members of the
The COMET are Richland County, the City of Columbia, the City of Forest Acres, and Lexington
County. It is governed by an 11-member Board, directly appointed by its member governments
and the South Carolina Legislative Delegation of Richland County as follows:
SC Legislature (House & Senate) delegation of Richland County (3 appointees)
Richland County Government (3 appointees)
City of Columbia Government (3 appointees)
Lexington County Government (1 appointee)
Town of Forest Acres (1 appointee)
The COMET is subject to an intergovernmental agreement amongst the members that outlines
procedural aspects of terms, membership, responsibility and interaction. The Board directly hires
an Executive Director, responsible for the all aspects of the organization with the exceptions of
those duties held by the members of the Board (motions, votes, etc.). The Executive Director
directly hires and supervises all COMET employees and contractor activities.
The COMET plans services through its dedicated transit planner who develops routes and
services, establishes span of service and frequency and directs fleet types use, where necessary.
The emphasis for routes and services is on direct, frequent and inherently simple services that
are oriented toward pedestrian and bicycle-friendly corridors, placing value on high-density
corridors and trip generators vs. “car-friendly” corridors (ex: tree covered & sidewalk-lined street
with fewer car/passenger conflicts is preferred to a classic arterial five-lane street).
The COMET holds and staffs public hearings, reports on findings, and makes technical
adjustments to routes based on feedback from passengers, the community, its stakeholders and
its contractors. The COMET performs all public outreach, marketing, promotion and information
campaigns for passengers. Timely and effective feedback and suggestions from stakeholders is
always valued.
The COMET also performs all procurements for contracts and services, not included in the RFP.
It performs its own grant applications, management and documentation. It performs all shortterm and long-range capital planning, selects all vehicles, technology and capital items and has
final approval of all items directly related to fleet, facilities and amenities. The COMET operates
its own financial department including accounts payable and financial reporting. The COMET
staffs all committee and Board meetings.
The Offeror is expected to work with staff as required in the RFP and as needed, but also with
key contractors (where appropriate) as it relates to the effective operation and maintenance of
the transit system and in the interests of The COMET. The COMET Staff is organized as follows:
Executive Team
Executive Director: Directly responsible for all activities of The COMET. Focus is on external
relations and conceptualizing transportation in Columbia. Also has an extensive background
in operations and maintenance.
Administrative Coordinator: Directly supports Executive Director and Board. Focus is on
assisting Executive Director meet the needs and expectations of the Board. Extensive
experience as The COMET’s reception gatekeeper.
Grants Coordinator: Performs all grants applications, documentation, reporting and project.
Focus is on capital project spending and grant revenues. Serves as FTA liaison and primary
regulatory expert and analyst. Has been with the organization since its founding.
Finance Team
Finance Manager: Oversees all financial processes. Focus is on reports, payables, payroll,
benefits, purchase orders, asset inventory and routine contractor auditing. Works directly to
maintain a “clean” and user-friendly financial process.
Staff Accountant: High-level support of the financial process. Focus is on stream-lined and
high accuracy financial processing and documentation. Works closely with procurement
processes and grants administration.
Front Desk Reception: Receptionist and pass sales. Focus is on telephone and “directing
traffic” for visitors, material and supply. Coordinates space availability and works with
departments to assist where possible.
Planning Team
Planning Manager: Oversees all service planning, fares, amenities, etc. and acts as chief
transit planner. Focus is on service development, on-street amenities and transit technology.
Works closely with the Executive Director and Contract Operator. Manages planning team.
Rural Transportation Planner: Supports Planning Manager with data collection, analysis and
service development. Focus is on rural communities and demand-response service types,
including ADA paratransit.
Project Manager: Performs dedicated project deployment across a wide variety of areas.
Focus is on brining critical and specific projects to fruition. Manages multiple projects to
conclusion or hand-off to other departments.
Community Outreach: Coordinates and oversees public hearings, passenger information
distribution, social media and website. Focus is on building grass-roots community
relationships to smooth the transition to a “transit-friendly” culture.
Transit Development Coordinator: Develops pass programs and partnerships with public and
private organizations. Focus is on increasing revenue and ridership for the system to
maximize the value in the community.
Travel Trainer: Performs on-street travel training and “how to ride” clinics for interested
groups and organizations. Focus is on New Freedom-oriented passenger base, fostering
independence and transit use for all.
Intern(s): College-enrolled or recent college graduates, seeking real-life understanding of
transit or public organization management. Generally supports the planning team but may
perform any variety of duties.
Key contractors
Legal, McNair Firm: Performs all legal services for The COMET as directed by the Executive
Director and the Board. Plays a critical role in intergovernmental agreements, Board actions,
by-laws and procurement.
Accounting, Derrick, Stubbs & Stith: Performs high-level financial analysis for the Executive
Director and the Board. Ensures reports, processes and materials follow required guidelines
and procedures. Advises on key financial projections and budgetary development.
Public Relations, Marketing & Branding, Chernoff Newman: Develops marketing materials,
brand-cohesion and public relations approaches. Advises on media releases, positioning on
key issues and advises the Board and Executive Director on key trends and issues facing the
Human Resources, LIH Consulting: Performs organizational HR support; advises the Executive
Director on public personnel issues; supports the Board on policy issues, as needed.
SKS Management: Performs as needed procurement services for capital projects. Assists with
“quick turn-around” procurements, record keeping and gatekeeping during selected capital
Contracted IT Services, To Be Determined: The COMET will be seeking a dedicated IT firm for
its own independent information management and software/hardware needs. The RFP
process will occur in fall 2014.
The COMET provides fixed route and paratransit services within Richland County and portions of
Lexington County. Richland County is part of the Columbia, South Carolina Metropolitan
Statistical Area and is the second most populous county in South Carolina. With 390,000
residents and 772 square miles, it is generally a mid-to-low density area. Mainly a suburban
county, there are several key pockets of density, in particular four key areas—a downtown
followed by three suburban enclaves, each about 7-10 miles from the city center. The distance
from other areas creates these somewhat isolated residential, employment and retail districts.
As such, a large county footprint with mid-level density and four distinct economic and residential
centers creates a very diffused and resource-intensive operational service area.
Lexington County is the neighbor to the west of Richland County and despite having a substantial
population, it does not participate fully with The COMET. Mainly rural and suburban with no
urban core, it has a growing retail corridor along the confluence of two main highways that
provides the majority of economic investment, mainly in the way of retail stores and service
economy jobs. New industrial parks have opened and attracted major employers such as
Amazon.com and Nephron Pharmaceuticals. As Lexington County grows, new opportunities for
transportation, especially mass transit may become more critical. Lexington County is the
greatest growth opportunity for The COMET, as it may have ample demand for park-and-ride into
the metro core of the City and has tremendous opportunity to grow rural transportation services.
It is expected both will develop as Lexington County continues to grow.
Both counties have extensive rural areas; The COMET’s ability to deliver low-cost and highly
flexible transportation services in these areas will be of critical importance over the next five
years. The COMET has already deployed pilot flex zones in one rural area and will implement a
new flex/fixed route combination in another area, establishing distinct service models that can
be used across the Midlands region. The COMET presently provides the financial subsidy for
transit services that are delivered in the rural portion of Richland County known as “Lower
Richland”, delivered by the Santee-Wateree RTA. This area has long been served by this
neighboring authority but funded by SCDOT. The COMET’s new funding stream has allowed it to
absorb this service and bring it under its service area; however, it does not yet have a plan for
bringing those services “in-house”. These routes will be included in The COMET’s routine scope
of services beginning in summer/fall 2015. This will require a low-cost rural option for the future.
The City straddles the two counties, with only a very small portion of the City in Lexington County.
As the capital city of South Carolina and home to the University of South Carolina (“USC”),
Columbia’s primary employers are: health care providers, financial and legal services, economic
development, government employers, and education and research facilities. Columbia has repositioned as a cultural community over the past five years, working to revitalize its downtown
and attract new development. A substantial number of residential developments are underway
in the downtown core, which will be supported by new USC housing complexes. The new influx
of residents will increase downtown employment and retail and spur increased density for the
downtown area. Millennial-age residents are gravitating to downtown due the low cost of living,
proximity to campus and growing availability of downtown activities.
3. The COMET’s Focus on the Future.
The COMET’s focus, in addition to safety, is two-fold: Phased service development; and capital
Phased service development: The Richland County service area is the main focus, as it is the
source of dedicated funding for transit operations. The Vision: 2020 plan, along with expertise
in density planning, quantitative analysis of travel patterns, and data-driven decision-making are
pushing service growth and development forward. Phase 1 (August 2014 – May 2015) is focused
on streamlining and improving existing routes and services. Realignment of unproductive
corridors, shortening of winding and looping routes, and simplifying the system is the first step,
as it allows for additional services to build on these high frequency corridors. Phase 2 (August
2015-May 2016) will focus on suburban zones, creating circulators in development areas to move
people within defined service areas and connecting to high-capacity corridors. Phase 2 will see
the introduction of park and ride and similar services, as fleet becomes available. Phase 3 (August
2016-May 2017) will see development of expanded services into the most outlying portions of
the community service area. By that time, rural pilot routes and low-density services will have
established mass transit viability and service will be deployed to match community needs.
Capital Procurement: Between 2008-2012, The COMET lacked match funds for capital projects
and found itself with a backlog of federal dollars. Over the last 12 months, the FTA has taken an
aggressive stance with The COMET—spend it or lose it—with sudden demands and firm
deadlines. As such, emphasis has been on spending expiring dollars, as outlined in the “Historical
Background and System Overview” above. The next major phase is large-scale fleet
replacement/acquisition. Fleet will be the single biggest challenge in growing services, as the
slowing of federal capital funds under MAP-21 has had a major impact. The COMET will submit
a large grant application under the FTA “Ladders of Opportunity” grant for significant fleet
turnover: a) complete replacement of expired vehicles and b) structured expansion fleet in
phased quantities. The COMET will submit all large vehicle grant requests to be buses of 35’ or
larger with a compressed natural gas fuel system option. The COMET will actively pursue a publicprivate partnership with a CNG provider to develop a fueling station on adjacent land to reduce
fuel costs and increase the amount of transit it can provide the community. Fleet specification
development and CNG fuel station procurement processes will begin in Fall 2014 for these two
separate but simultaneous projects. Transit enhancements are the second major emphasis for
The COMET. Enhancements include benches, shelters, trash cans and bicycle racks but are
expanded to include expanded capacity (3-position) bus-mounted bicycle racks, schedule racks
throughout the community, transit technology (trackers and fare payment), on-board security
systems and general information.
4. Description of Vehicles, Facilities and Equipment & Replacement Cycle
Vehicles: The COMET owns its own fleet of vehicles with a variety of manufacturers, sizes and
years of purchase. Appendix F provides a listing of vehicles in more extensive detail, along with
recent maintenance history. All fixed route vehicles have Digital Recorders CAD/AVL systems
with on-board annunciators (visual and auditory), 2-position bicycle racks, two-way radios and
GFI-Genfare Odyssey fare collection systems, all provided at The COMET’s expense. The
incumbent provides SmartDrive, and Offerors are required to provide a similar system and shall
include an ecodriving component, to be active within six months of installation to reduce fuel
consumption rates and extend the life of engines and major components through the reduction
of excessive acceleration or like behavior.
REPLACEMENT, AND SMART DRIVE (or similar), are at the expense of The COMET, on a
documented and justified pass-through basis. The contractor shall be responsible for maintaining
the communication systems in all revenue service vehicles, including provision of spare
equipment, reprogramming, etc. The contractor will be responsible for maintaining base stations
and facility antennas, and other in-house equipment used for dispatching. The COMET will NOT
fund a “replace it” or “send it out” program in lieu of repair. Contractors shall not send out
unnecessary work to pass through costs to The COMET. If this found to occur, appropriate
liquidated damages shall apply.
All revenue vehicles are equipped with mobility device tie downs. Replacement of tie-down
straps and mechanisms are required following any accident when a mobility device had been
secured, as the safety systems (webbing and retractors) become compromised. Documentation
of disposal is required.
The successful Offeror must provide its own Vehicle Maintenance Management Information
System. The current system is Ron Turley & Associates VMMIS, which includes all vehicle
maintenance as well as reporting. A system is also required to track and report facility
maintenance, required facility inspections and any other similar functions; however, the VMMIS
is not required to perform this—one must be in place within two weeks of the transition start to
begin formalized inspections of facilities, etc.
Fixed Route Fleet: See Appendix F for details. As of September 1, 2014, the Fixed Route fleet
will be comprised of:
Eleven (11) brand new 2014 Starcraft propane-powered (Rousch) cutaway buses
Eight (8) 2010 New Flyer 35’ low-floor, diesel buses
Twenty (20) 2002 Bluebird high-floor, diesel buses in the following sizes
o 10: 35’
o 10: 40’
The COMET has a contingency fleet of seven (7) 30’ and four (4) 35’ high-floor, 2002 Bluebird
diesel buses for future service expansion. These vehicles WILL NOT BE USED FOR EXTENSIVE
PERIODS but will instead be activated when: a) expansion vehicles are on order and awaiting
arrival; or b) service expansion is ready for deployment. This allows The COMET to grow service
for the community without waiting multi-year periods for fleet arrival and preparation. An
alternative is to reduce the spare ratio, which may be an option based upon fleet age. Offerors
shall note there is no defined service timeline for this contingency, nor any determination of how
many vehicles may be used. The fleet would be the same age as all other Bluebirds and should
budget accordingly.
Paratransit Fleet: See Appendix F for details. The paratransit fleet includes on-board AVL and
two way radios on a separate frequency from the fixed route fleet. All repairs for these
technology systems, except for two way communication, is at the expense of The COMET, on a
pass-through basis.
As of September 1, 2014, the Paratransit fleet will be comprised of:
One (1) 2000 Goshen Ford high-floor, cutaway diesel buses
Three (3) 2001 Goshen Ford high-floor, cutaway diesel buses
Seven (7) 2002 Goshen Ford high-floor, cutaway diesel buses
Three (3) 2005 Goshen Ford high-floor, cutaway diesel buses
Three (3) 2007 Goshen Ford high-floor, cutaway diesel buses
Three (3) 2010 Goshen Chevrolet high-floor, cutaway diesel buses
The COMET is applying for grant funds from an existing federal allotment that will fund a
complete replacement of the paratransit fleet. The fleet is anticipated to be 2014/15 model,
Rousch-proane, Starcraft 12 passenger cutaway vehicles ordered from SCDOT’s existing state
contract. The timeline for purchase and delivery is just before or after April 1, 2015. The
successful Offeror will be responsible for timely preparation for revenue service either during
start-up or after formal Contract start.
Non-Revenue Fleet: The COMET also owns two maintenance service vehicles for use by the
contractor for road calls and routine maintenance issues. These vehicles are to be used
exclusively for maintaining the O&M Facility and fleet, and not for personal business or use. Any
other vehicles for the shop (Director, parts running, etc.) is the responsibility of the Offeror. As
of September 1, 2014, the Non-Revenue fleet will be comprised of:
One (1) 2006 F-450 utility flatbed truck , diesel
One (1) 2014 Chevrolet Silverado Pick-up crewcab, diesel
The COMET owns a non-revenue fleet of three (3) relief cars for use by The COMET and the
contractor. Effective the start date of the contract, these vehicles will be limited to The COMET
staff for meetings, etc. The contractor shall be responsible for maintaining these vehicles on
behalf of The COMET, including preventive maintenance, routine repair, replacement of wear
items, and weekly or as-needed cleaning.
The contractor shall be required to supply and maintain its own vehicles for street supervision
and operator relief. Relief points are set by the contractor. Fuel for these contractor-provided
non-revenue vehicles shall be supplied by the contractor. These vehicles shall be wrapped and
or decaled as determined by The COMET and at The COMET’s expense.
The COMET reserves the right to add or delete vehicles as required during the course of this RFP
(respecting the spare ratio FTA allows). The contractor will be allowed the use of The COMET
vehicles for the delivery of fixed route and paratransit services. The COMET will provide a
minimum of 15% spare ratio to the contractor to allow for timely maintenance and repair. The
COMET reserves the right to add additional features, technology or safety systems to its fleet and
has the exclusive right to select the fleet and its components. The contractor is welcome to
participate through research, data, technical analysis and experience; however, The COMET has
final say in the vehicles it operates.
Operations & Maintenance Facility: The O&M Facility was constructed between 2006-2008. The
O&M Facility is 46,664 square feet and includes a first floor operations center, available to the
Contract Operator complete with office space, storage facilities, multiple Dispatch/Operations
centers and a comprehensive Maintenance Area. Please note that two (2) additional bus bays
described below are currently under construction and will add to the 46,664 square foot total.
Operator break room, restrooms with lockers and showers and exterior picnic facilities are
available for use by the successful Offeror. In general, the contractor is free to arrange offices
and assign space as necessary. Any adjustments to fixed systems (walls, doors, power,
data/phone drops, wall-mounted units, etc.) require authorization from The COMET for
modification. Surface areas (posters, signs, etc.) do not require authorization from The COMET.
The COMET constructed new office space in Fall 2013/Spring 2014 so any additional
modifications will occur at the expense of the contractor. All first floor furniture is the property
of the existing contractor excepting basic tables and chairs in public break rooms. The contractor
is responsible for supplying their own furnishings, but is free to use the available first floor
furniture and amenities. A diagram with approximate measurements, where available, is
provided in Appendix J.
The COMET’s administrative staff occupies the 2nd floor of the facility; however, there are two
common areas available for use for meetings: a small conference room and a large board
room/common meeting space for safety meetings, etc. There is also at least one (1) office in The
COMET’s administrative area available on a short-term basis for Contract start-up.
The O&M Facility has a Maintenance area with a maintenance library, fare box rebuild room,
office space, break room and locker area. The Shop floor contains 9 original maintenance bays,
one of which is surrounded by a two-hour burn wall for compressed natural gas major repairs.
In 2014, The COMET began expansion of the maintenance facility with two additional bays for
Propane repairs, using the final portions of an existing facilities grant. The construction will be
complete by Summer 2014. There is a dedicated parts room with available storage for large
components and a separate fluids room and separate facilities maintenance storage area. The
COMET does not provide any parts inventory or vehicle fluids or facility supplies. The only
consumable provided by The COMET is fuel for fixed route and paratransit vehicles, which is
purchased by The COMET and provided to the contractor. The contractor shall maintain a justin-time, yet sufficient inventory of fuel to allow for re-supply. Any fuel dispensed off property is
the full expense of the contractor, unless otherwise agreed upon. Fuel economy and idle
reduction is an expected part of contractor fleet and operations management.
There is a large parking area directly adjacent to the maintenance bays along with a diesel fuel
station, fluid reel system, a propane fuel station, outside steam area, bus wash and fare box vault
“rob” station for the GFI-Genfare system. The lot is a gated facility with an exit point onto Lucius
Rd. The opposite set of maintenance bays also has a secure gated access entry point with a
parking area for vehicles under repair or set aside for service. Other major equipment owned by
The COMET includes a new forklift (2013), tire machine (2014), bus air conditioner reclaimer
(2012), and facility boom lift (2012). Any tool not listed shall be supplied by the contractor or
individual mechanics. A list of available tools and equipment is included in Appendix G.
Transit Center: The COMET leases a Transit Center from the City for a nominal rate. The Transit
Center is outfitted with a contractor-staffed information/pass sales desk, public restrooms
(separate, open-access men & women), a climate controlled waiting area with seating, digital
announcement & information boards for customers, and real-time trip arrival information on
Digital Recorders/Clever Devices LED information boards for the AVL/CAD system (exterior &
interior). These LED Boards were purchased and installed in 2012/2013 and operate based on
the Digital Recorders data system.
The Transit Center is one of the key challenge areas for The COMET. It has become a social
gathering place for a variety of non-transit activities. The COMET currently holds the contracts
for cleaning and armed security; however, as described in the Scope of Work, those functions will
become the contractor’s responsibility. The COMET staff lacks the boots on the ground to
actively manage the facility and will look for an Offeror that can offer a customer-friendly,
proactive approach to helping clean up the atmosphere at the Transit Center Sumter and Laurel
Streets location. The COMET and Veolia Transportation have had meetings with the Columbia
Police Department and have begun a proactive approach to better managing the facility, mainly
through increased police response and managing contractors. Concerted efforts are being made
to minimize loitering and after-hours vagrancy.
The Transit Center is also a challenge operationally, as it lacks on-street boarding and alighting
space. The facility is on a corner property, surrounded by businesses, parking lots and driveways,
making it impossible to load more than a few buses at a single time. As the system grows, The
COMET will seek more creative solutions such as across-the-street loading, reduced flow of
vehicles on Laurel Street, and alternate high-frequency transfer points. Until a permanent largescale facility is constructed, this will be the primary transit hub for downtown. Consistent efforts
will be made to creatively use the space.
The COMET has already begun a transit center location study, partnering with the Central
Midland Council of Governments (“CMCOG”) to conduct an analysis of the downtown core. Step
One is identifying the transit service corridors, followed by identifying all attainable property
within that area. Second is identifying, from among those properties, all locations that can
support a multi-modal center. Third is feasibility analysis: conducting stakeholder meetings and
receiving input from neighboring businesses. Finally, a list of prioritized properties, in order of
attainability based on support from neighboring businesses and price, will be presented to move
forward. The study shall also look at the study for potential park-and-ride locations as well as
satellite transfer points in suburban transit-friendly areas.
Data/Telephone System: The COMET owns the telephone system in the O&M Facility and will
provide service and one telephone per office to be used by the contractor so long as The Comet
is reimbursed for long distance service. The O&M Facility is networked with data drops in (all)
offices but with separate networks for the contractor and The COMET. The COMET owns its own
hardware and maintains its own IT support. All Offerors will supply their own IT system, including
servers, computers, software, licenses, office printers, power supply and other equipment
necessary to perform the routine management of the operation. Operations-based exceptions
Two Printer/Copier/Fax/Scanners: The COMET provides two units for the contractor and
supplies the maintenance parts & labor and toner. The contractor supplies its own paper.
These units belong to The COMET and at the point they are no longer functional (beyond
repair or repair items not covered under warranty agreement are beyond reasonable
expense, as determined by The COMET), they shall be replaced by the contractor and shall
supply their own maintenance, toner, etc. The contractor may replace these at any time
at their expense.
Dispatch Office: Security system monitor (contractor owns all other equipment).
DART Office: Five (5) Trapeze workstations, one (1) server for paratransit operations—
please note that upgrades of all hardware (including servers), software and licenses, and
maintenance of the comprehensive paratransit IT package will now be the responsibility
of the contractor. More detail is provided in the Paratransit section of the Scope of Work
(Note: current contractor owns AVL monitor and manager computer).
Maintenance: The COMET owns no IT aspects of the maintenance department.
Two (2) vehicle-installed laptops for the CAD/AVL Digital Recorders project.
5. The COMET’s Transit Service.
The Orbit: The COMET’s system is primarily a radial network, with nearly all of its weekday routes
starting/ending at the Transit Center. The Transit Center is located at the north end of downtown
Columbia, with most major trip generators 8-15 Columbia city blocks away. As such, The COMET
has struggled to generate ridership from commuters because all routes access the Transit Center
but: a) only a few routes transport passengers southbound toward the major employment
destinations; and b) they are infrequent. The limited facilities and long waits for transfers reduce
the “benefits” of transit travel. Coupled with available, close-by and inexpensive parking, transit
is not often seen as a friendly option for non-transit dependent citizens.
To combat this, The COMET has created The Orbit, which will begin Phase One in Fall 2014, with
the 2nd and final phase in 2015. The Orbit is modeled after the concept of Chicago’s “L” Loop: a
core area of downtown where many lines (in The COMET’s case, bus routes) overlap to reduce
the number of transfers and create highly accessible transit to passengers within the most dense
part of the downtown core. The Orbit has its eight most popular routes operating clock-wise and
counter clock-wise—the net result is transit frequency of 10 minutes or less, each direction
(accounting for 40 minute frequencies or less) and closer access to downtown locations. The
additional running time per route is offset with reduced “dwell time” at the Transit Center,
improved efficiency and revenue from increased passenger load and in most instances add only
a few minutes to those few routes, as all routes are already accessing the transit center. Eightyfive percent (85%) of the downtown core is within a 1320’ walking distance (1/4 mile, and just
three blocks) of The Orbit, with the eight routes accounting for approximately seventy percent
(70%) of system ridership. In addition to improving accessibility for passengers traveling
TO/FROM downtown, the transit-savvy user can use this as in internal circulator to travel within
downtown, even if they drove into town. This increases ridership, revenue and exposure to
transit. Research shows that those using limited services over time will increase reliance on, and
dramatically increase support for, transit services.
Pre-Orbit Example: Passengers walk (or catch one a few select routes) just to get to the Transit
Center to wait for transferring bus to arrive and then travel to home/work, etc. If their trip ends
downtown, passengers must walk from the Transit Center to their destination (which is 8-15
blocks away) OR wait to catch one a few routes traveling that direction in downtown.
Post-Orbit Example: Person rides a Main Line route into downtown and does not exit the bus for
Transfer unless needing another outlying route. Instead, they remain on vehicle and exit on
Sumter, Richland, Assembly or College Streets, as needed. If transferring to Main Line route, they
can transfer ANYWHERE along The Orbit to meet their vehicle, reducing their trip time and
reducing Transit Center traffic. Should a passenger on a non-Orbit route need to travel anywhere
downtown, they can catch ANY Orbit route to get across town, drastically reducing their time
between transfers and reducing reliance on catching a special route to get across downtown. If
needing to catch a non-Orbit route home from the Transit Center, passengers can ride to the
climate-controlled seating area inside the Transit Center on ANY Orbit route without having to
wait. This improves comfort, safety and reliability.
For the period of May – July 2014, The COMET has averaged approximately 5,600 fixed route
weekday passengers and 2,500 weekend fixed route passengers. Weekday ridership generally
does not deviate more than 10% from the daily average, with average ridership very consistent
during the week. The COMET expects ridership to grow significantly in the coming months,
especially as school resumes and new student-oriented routes take effect for August 18, 2014.
A summary of transit routes is provided below:
Paratransit Operations: The COMET operates two distinct paratransit service types—ADA
demand-response (DART) and open-access demand response (Flex).
DART: The ADA demand-response paratransit service is operated by the contractor and follows
the service days and times of the fixed route system, i.e. if the route is not in service, there is no
paratransit service along that corridor. Park-and-ride services will be exempt from the ADArequired ¾ mile barrier, as they exempt are from the ADA requirements. The contractor is to
adhere to this in all cases; however, common-sense application of pick-up times and drop-off
times and points shall be used in order to follow the spirit of the ADA but without providing
services that would not be available to any other person. Demand-response must be prescheduled the day before and has a no denial policy, using trip negotiation and scheduling to
accommodate trip requests.
Flex: The open-access service is a newly created flexible service that operates like the ADA
service; however, any passenger can ride the vehicle and ALL origins and destinations must be
within the service zone, which includes the end-of-the-line points for three fixed routes. This
service is designed to connect low-density areas to fixed route buses, especially higher frequency
Main Line routes. The first Flex Zone began in February 2014 and will be expanded to a larger
service area. There is no dedicated vehicle to this route, as the passengers are fit into the DART
manifest and delivered to the route destinations by DART drivers. This minimizes overall costs
and allows for the same staff to answer and schedule telephone-based calls. The COMET also
operates a “Re-Flex” route, which is a hybrid deviated fixed route—it has a series of scheduled
fixed route trips, but then is available to perform demand response service like a classic flexible
Holidays: The Board approved a new “Holiday Service”, a weekend service for New Year’s Day,
Memorial Day, Labor Day & Independence Day, closing only on Christmas & Thanksgiving Day.
Other than these six days, the system operates at full schedule.
Event Fixed Routes & Community Participation: To provide unique services to the community
beyond traditional daily fixed route or paratransit service, The COMET creates specialized routes
with public hearing and Board approval. These are fixed routes that have limited scope of service
that require a passenger fare. This ensures The COMET follows the rules and spirit of FTA’s
charter regulations. Event fixed routes include: The Gamecock Express 10-20 vehicles, as needed
for park-and-ride services during events at Williams-Brice Stadium or others as may be
determined. This should be included in the hourly pricing, as NO SPECIAL EVENT billing rate is
From time to time, The COMET may request a driver and bus for visitors, technical tours, staff
activities or community events. In all cases, the contractor shall supply a supervisor or staff
member, as full operator services are not needed and it is neither fixed route nor charter services.
The contractor shall also donate staff or supervisor time for community events, school tours or
similar. If the contractor elects to use an operator or other employee due to staffing constraints,
that shall be at the expense of the contractor. Please note these are mainly charity events (Ex:
Salvation Army Stuff A Bus) or community promotions (career day; school events or community
fairs). The contractor is encouraged to become engaged in the community beyond day-to-day
transit operations.
The contractor shall provide operation and maintenance for The COMET’s Fixed Route and
Paratransit services, in accordance with all of the requirements outlined in this RFP (including all
attachments) and the Offeror’s response thereto. The contractor shall administer, manage, and
provide all goods, personnel, and services necessary to deliver to The COMET complete operation
and maintenance Fixed Route and Paratransit Services in a manner consistent with state and
federal laws and in a fiscally sound manner.
The COMET is seeking proposals which comply with each of the requirements described in Part
4, Scope of Work, below. In addition, Offeror’s separate financial proposal MUST be provided
using an “effective hourly rate” as provided in the “Pricing Section” below, which includes the
cost of providing each item listed in the Scope of Work. The COMET considers any proposal
which provides any deviations from, or caveats to, this RFP, including ALL appendices, as
unacceptable. Anything that any Offeror would like to modify, seek clarifications on, or any other
deviation, however modest, MUST be presented during the question and answer phase so it can
be considered and determined by The COMET before the submission date for all proposals, so
that all prospective Offerors will have a common and uniform basis upon which to submit its
proposals, including the pricing proposal. Attached as Appendix D is a draft of the proposed
Contract which the Offeror should be prepared to execute, subject to only such provisions as may
be modified as set forth above.
Proposals should be prepared simply and economically, providing a straightforward, concise
description of the Offeror’s capabilities to complete the contract.
The proposals must address all requirements of this RFP. Information must be current, upto-date and completely address the RFP requirements.
The submittal should be typed using a 12-point font size and employ margins of one inch or
Typed, bound, and presented in sections separated by tabs (which will not count towards the
page limit). Tab sections are specified below.
Proposal copies and all supporting documentation shall be exact replicas of the original
proposal document. Each copy of the proposal shall be bound in a single volume.
The Proposal shall contain no more than 75 pages, with the option to include appendices as
needed to support the requirements of the RFP. Pages in the Proposal must be consecutively
numbered. The numbering should not include the cover letter, table of contents, tabs, and
blank pages, as they do not count toward the page limit requirement. Please mark blank
pages as “This Page Intentionally Left Blank.” Double sided pages are preferred.
If the Offeror supplies publications in response to a requirement, the response must include
a reference to the document number and page number(s) of the publication. Publications
provided without this reference will not be considered by the Evaluation Committee or the
Each proposal shall include a Submission Letter, untabbed and unnumbered, which shall be
signed and dated by a representative authorized to bind the Offeror. As part of its proposal,
the Offeror shall provide, at a minimum, the following material and essential
requirements for the contracted operation and maintenance of The COMET’s fixed route
and paratransit services without deviation or modification, subject to any modifications
that may be issued by amendment resulting from the question and answer phase. Each
proposal must contain responses to the following information, separated by corresponding
numbered tabs:
Tab 1: Offeror Qualifications/Experiences. Provide a summary of offeror’s work history, years
of service and experience with providing transportation services. Of particular interest is
experience in operating contracts of similar size and scope, including detailed experience in
operating and maintaining fixed route and paratransit services. Start-up of new non-ADA and
rural paratransit service is of particular interest. Demonstrate proof of ability to perform all terms
of this RFP.
Offeror must provide a list of all entities, public and private, for which the Offeror has operated
fixed route and/or paratransit services during the past five (5) years to include: identification of
the work performed (fixed route, paratransit, rural or any combination); current contract status;
number of vehicles in fleet; number of employees and percentage of DBE participation in the
contract. Provide the name and contact information for Offeror’s point of contact for each entity
Tab 2: Key Personnel Qualifications & Staff Plan. Identify Key Personnel recommended to
manage the Scope of Work provisions and support The COMET’s administrative functions.
Specific positions should include: 1) Responsible Senior Manager/RVP; 2) On-site, full-time
General Manager; and 3) other senior staff/significant personnel, which may include local or
corporate personnel. Provide resumes for each of the Key Personnel, setting forth their
qualifications for their position and the record of the project team in working together on similar
assignments. Offerors shall provide evidence that each person identified in its proposal as filling
a Key Personnel position is in fact committed to this project. Offerors should note that The
COMET requires Key Personnel to be one hundred percent (100%) dedicated to this RFP, unless
it provides prior written approval for a reduced time dedication.
Provide an explanation of the proposed management structure for performing the services,
including a comprehensive organization chart. Also, provide an explanation of the relationship of
the project team to the Offeror’s corporate entity, including the specific areas of corporate
support to be provided to the local team.
Tab 3: Approach To Service Quality. Describe the Offeror’s start-up process. Startup includes all
preparations necessary to begin operation of the service as described in the RFP. Provide
descriptions of employee transition, technology implementation, vehicle inspection, collective
bargaining steps, and preparations for additional responsibilities (subcontractor monitoring,
performance reporting, etc.), as applicable to the contents of the proposal. Using the timetable
included on page ii of this RFP, provide a timeline of key activities, dated benchmarks and
deliverables during the start-up process.
Offerors shall include their approach to comprehensive, transit-oriented customer care such as
employee customer service training, management approach to minimizing conflict, etc. Describe
how rider and non-rider feedback (complaints, commendations and suggestions) are processes
from receipt of call through documenting, resolving, updating documentation, compiling and
reporting. Explain how this will be reported to The COMET and provide samples of those reports.
Describe Offeror’s ability to perform the Scope of Work set forth in this RFP, including a
description of the Offeror’s operations and maintenance capability and its methods and
resources to perform the services described in this RFP. Of particular interest is the how the
Offeror balances quality with cost to deliver exceptional service to the service area
Offerors are encouraged to include RELEVANT innovative strategies or concepts for enhancing
service quality, reducing costs, or otherwise improving productivity and performance. Provide
examples of cases where the Offeror has successfully implemented such strategies for clients.
Tab 4: Client Satisfaction, Reporting & References. Describe the Offeror’s approach on both
the local and corporate level to client satisfaction. This includes methods of transparency,
routine reporting and real-time information and updates. Describe approach to communicating
with The COMET executive staff and Board and how you expect The COMET to work with
identified Key Personnel.
Describe your approach to timely, clear and concise reporting based upon the requirements of
the Scope of Work. Explain and demonstrate the Offeror in complying with FTA requirements.
Please refer to Appendix D which includes the proposed Contract which would result from this
solicitation and confirm your willingness to comply with the provisions in the Contract relating to
the Freedom of Information Act and other reporting requirements.
Offeror must provide the names, contact information (telephone number and e-mail address)
and description of five (5) references for projects of similar size (or larger) and scope performed
in the last five years. All references must have been in operation for at least twenty-four (24)
consecutive months. At least two of these must be current projects and include the contract
expiration date. The description for each reference shall include: length of contract, size of
contract and service performed (i.e. fixed route, paratransit, maintenance, call center, etc.);
number and type of fleet (number of vehicles, size of vehicle & fuel types); collective bargaining
experience (if applicable) (i.e., status of current contract, number of arbitrations in past 36
months), safety record (all accidents and injuries incidents per 100,000 Revenue Miles and
employee injuries per 200,000 labor hours in the past 24 months) and percentage of DBE
participation in the contract.
Tab 5: Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) Engagement & Goal Achievement
Offerors are advised that the work described in this RFP will be financed in part by a grant from
the FTA, United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), and/or the SCDOT.
To receive funds under the applicable Federal Programs, The COMET must comply with the
requirements of the administering agencies which are imposed as conditions under which the
grants of funds are made.
The requirements of 49 CFR Part 26, Regulations of the USDOT, will apply to the Contract that
results from this RFP. It is a condition of the grant of Federal funds that certain provisions be
included and be made a part of The COMET’s RFP and resulting contract. These mandatory
federal requirements apply to this solicitation and will be made a part of any Contract awarded.
Offerors are notified hereby that they must meet all of the terms and conditions related to the
requirements imposed by the administrating agencies named above, as contained herein,
including, but not limited to, the following, which shall be included in Tab 5 of Offeror’s proposal
and Appendix B described below:
1. Nondiscrimination: - In accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000d, Section 303 of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 6102, section
202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12132, and Federal Transit Law at
49 U.S.C. § 5332, the Offeror agrees that it will not discriminate against any employee or applicant
for employment because of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, or disability. In addition,
the Offeror agrees to comply with applicable Federal implementing regulations and other
implementation that the FTA may issue.
2. Equal Employment Opportunity:
(a) Race, Color, Creed, National Origin or Sex. In accordance with Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act, as amended, 42. U.S.C. §2000e, and Federal transit laws at 49 U.S.C. §5332, the
Offeror agrees to comply with all applicable equal opportunity requirements of the U. S.
Department of Labor (“USDOL”) regulations, "Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs,
Equal Employment Opportunity, Department of Labor" 41 C.F.R. Parts 60 et seq., (which
implement Executive Order No. 11246, "Equal Employment Opportunity," as amended by
Executive Order No. 11375, "Amending Executive Order 11246 Relating to Equal Employment
Opportunity," 42 U.S.C. 2000e note), and with any applicable Federal statutes, executive orders,
regulations and Federal policies that may in the future affect construction and procurement
activities undertaken in the course of the Contract. The Offeror agrees to take affirmative action
to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment
without regard to their race, color, creed, national origin, sex or age. Such action shall include,
but not be limited to, the following: employment, upgrading, demotion or transfer, recruitment
or recruitment advertising, layoff or termination; rates of pay or other forms of compensation;
and selection for training, including apprenticeship. In addition, the Offeror agrees to comply
with any implementing requirements FTA may issue.
(b) Age. In accordance with Section 4 of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of
1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 623 and Federal transit law at 49 U.S.C. §5332, the Offeror agrees
to refrain from discrimination against present and prospective employees for reason of age. In
addition, the Offeror agrees to comply with any implementing requirements FTA may issue.
(c) Disabilities. In accordance with Section 102 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12112, the Offeror agrees that it will comply with the requirements of U.
S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Regulations to Implement the Equal
Employment Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act," 29 C.F.R. Part 1630, pertaining to
employment of persons with disabilities. In addition, the Offeror agrees to comply with any
implementing requirements FTA may issue.
The Offeror also agrees to include these requirements in each subcontract financed in
whole or in part with Federal assistance provided by FTA or SCDOT.
(d) Equal Opportunity Report Statement. The Offeror shall complete, sign and include in
their proposal the Equal Opportunity Report Statement. When a determination has been made
to award a Contract to a specific Offeror, such Offeror shall, prior to award, after award or both,
furnish such other pertinent information regarding his own employment policies and practices
as well as those of his proposed subcontractors as The COMET, or the Secretary of Labor may
require. All such information required of a subcontractor shall be furnished by the Offeror.
3. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program
The Department of Transportation of the United States government has, as a matter of policy,
determined that grantees and their contractors shall endeavor to expend project funds with
qualified disadvantaged business enterprises, as vendors/subconsultants, located within the
reasonable trade area determined in relation to the matter of services or supplies needed to be
procured. FTA encourages award of this RFP, or any portion thereof to vendors/subconsultants,
and/or suppliers who qualify as DBE's as defined by FTA.
NOTE: Failure by the Offeror and any subcontractor to carry out the Federal Requirements
including Disadvantaged Business Program Requirements will be a material breach of the
Contract resulting from this RFP, which may result in the termination of the Contract or such other
remedy as the recipient deems appropriate.
It is the policy of The COMET to create a level playing field and eliminate barriers to
participation by DBEs as defined in Appendix B titled Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
Requirements in the performance of any Contract awarded as a result of this RFP. In this regard,
all Offerors shall take all necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that DBEs have a fair
opportunity to compete for and perform The COMET contracts. The COMET and all Offerors shall
not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin or sex in the award and performance
of The COMET contracts or subcontracts.
In accordance with the DBE Policy, The COMET has determined that there are
subcontracting opportunities and has established a goal for DBE participation in the resulting
contract. The Offeror will be expected to meet or exceed the goal, and/or demonstrate its good
faith efforts to meet the goal. The goal, expressed as a percentage of the total Contract price,
including any increases that may occur during the contract’s initial term or extensions thereof,
DBE Participation.
The COMET's DBE requirements are set forth in Appendix B which provides detailed
information on The COMET’s DBE Policy and the DBE requirements with respect to this RFP.
Offerors are advised to carefully review this Appendix including the requisite forms attached
thereto. Offerors should undertake necessary steps to plan to meet or exceed the stated DBE
utilization goal well in advance of the date specified for the receipt of proposals. Offerors are
advised that the issue of whether or not the Offerors has met or exceeded the established goals,
or demonstrated sufficient good faith efforts, is considered by The COMET is a matter of the
Offeror's responsibility. The COMET will only award contracts to Offerors determined to be
The percentage(s) agreed to between The COMET and the successful Offeror shall be
incorporated into the Contract resulting from this RFP.
Each page of Appendix B must be returned with each proposal (Pages DBE 1 – 21). The Offeror
must initial at the bottom of each page acknowledging that the Appendix has been read in its
entirety. Failure to fully and accurately complete each form in Appendix B will result in the
Offeror being deemed “non responsive.”
Tab 6: Required Forms. Each Offeror must include in its proposal the following forms which will
not be counted towards the page limit:
Forms Found In Appendix A.
Signed and dated copy of “Ethics and No Contact Form” issued by The COMET.
Signed and dated “Acknowledgement of Amendment” for all amendments issued by The
Insurance documents required by this RFP.
The Entire DBE Package Which Is Appendix B. Pages 1-21 must be initialed as required.
Price Proposal Forms. The Price Proposal will include all costs associated with the operation and
maintenance of the fixed route and paratransit services Scope of Work identified in the RFP. If
there are additional costs associated with the provision of the operation and maintenance of the
fixed route and paratransit services not identified in the Scope of Work, Offeror shall identify the
same as part of its Price Proposal. The cost shall be represented by a “single effective hourly
rate,” and must be reflected on the pricing forms attached hereto as Appendix C. Start-up costs
shall be listed separately and not included in the single effective hourly rate. As required above,
the Price Proposal must be submitted in a separate sealed enclosure marked “Price Proposal.”
Part 4: Scope of Work
Each of the items below must be addressed in the Tabs described in Part 3.
The contractor shall furnish a full-time qualified General Manager, acceptable to The COMET, to
supervise the fixed route and paratransit services. The COMET can withdraw approval of the
General Manager at any time. The contractor will have (90) ninety days from the date of written
notice to furnish a qualified successor General Manager acceptable to The COMET. Failure of the
contractor to provide a qualified replacement within the ninety (90) day time frame, unless such
time is extended in writing by The COMET, may constitute a ground of default under the Contract.
The General Manager shall conduct the day to day operations of The COMET, as outlined in this
Scope of Work, to ensure that the contractor complies with all of the terms of the Contract. The
General Manager will oversee that the operations office is staffed and equipped so the
communications, correspondence, dispatching of vehicles, handling of complaints and other
problems normally related to a program of public transportation can be efficiently and effectively
provided. The General Manager shall prepare and certify to The COMET full and complete
monthly reports in a format acceptable to The COMET.
The General Manager shall maintain an office at the O&M Facility and shall have a designated
employee as the point of contact and decision-maker in his or her absence. The contractor shall
also identify and provide the contact information for the Senior Responsible Manager, frequently
identified as the Region Vice President, to whom the General Manager reports.
All “key personnel” that will be associated with the provision of services under the Contract shall
be identified in the proposal. These positions shall be dedicated 100% to the management of The
COMET Contract and shall not be responsible for the management of, or used as a resource for,
any other projects without prior written approval from The COMET. The contractor is required
to staff fully the “key personnel” positions identified in its proposal as it is considered part of the
pricing. If positions are no longer needed, the contractor may seek to adjust the Contract terms
and pricing, where appropriate. The qualifications and expertise of all key personnel shall be
demonstrated in the proposal document.
The COMET shall have the right to approve any key personnel employed by the contractor. Any
change in or extended absence of key personnel requires prior written approval of The COMET.
In addition, if a key personnel position will be vacant, whether on vacation or otherwise, for more
than two weeks, the contractor must notify The COMET in writing of such vacancy. During the
period of performance, the contractor shall make no substitutions of key personnel unless the
substitution is necessitated by illness, death, termination of employment, promotion, or the
employee leaving employment.
The contractor must be an entity authorized to do business in South Carolina. The contractor
shall provide qualified staffing as may be necessary in order to comply with the requirements of
this RFP and the needs of The COMET through the term of the contract. The services may be
provided by the contractor or through its subcontractors. However, the contractor is the single
point of contact for The COMET and is responsible for providing all services required under the
contract. The contractor may choose to perform training and certain administrative activities
required under the Contract using off-site regional or national contractor personnel. Any plans
for these centralized functions shall be clearly explained in the Offeror’s proposal. The COMET
reserves the right to approve each member of the contractor’s management staff and to require
the contractor to add or to eliminate management positions. The contractor, and any
subcontractors, are urged to consider offering existing incumbent contractor employees, as
legally appropriate, employment opportunities commensurate with their current compensation
and seniority.
The contractor must have background checks (criminal, reference, financial where applicable)
performed, which includes pre-employment background checks and annual background checks
thereafter, on all employees. Offerors must provide the written minimum standards for
employment based upon background checks.
The contractor will ensure that all safety sensitive employees complete and pass a preemployment drug test prior to employment and that after hire, all safety sensitive employees
participate in a random drug and alcohol testing program. The contractor must demonstrate that
all employees providing services to The COMET under the Contract are competent in their
assigned duties. Information pertaining to qualifications of employees must be made available to
The contractor is responsible for all costs associated with this program. The contractor shall
ensure that all of the requirements in this section are applicable to, and are included in, its
subcontract with any subcontract, or as applicable.
During the term of this contract, the contractor must maintain a drug and alcohol testing program
that complies with 49 CFR Parts 653 and 654 (or any successive regulation), produce any
documentation necessary to establish its compliance with Parts 653 and 654 (or any successive
regulation), and permit any authorized representative of USDOT or its operating administrations,
the SCDOT, or The COMET, to inspect the facilities and records associated with the
implementation of the drug and alcohol testing program as required under 49 CFR Parts 653 and
654 (or any successive regulation) and review the testing process. The contractor agrees further
to certify annually its compliance with Parts 653 and 654 (or any successive regulation). To certify
compliance, the contractor shall use the "Substance Abuse Certifications" in the "Annual List of
Certifications and Assurances for Federal Transit Administration Grants and Cooperative
Contracts," which is published annually in the Federal Register. The contractor shall ensure that
all of the requirements in this section are applicable to and included in its subcontract with any
subcontract. Failure to maintain current policies, procedures, records or failure to follow
policies—regardless of reason—are subject to liquidated damages and may constitute a
condition of default under the Contract.
The following applies to all employees who operates a vehicle in the performance of their duties,
or who supervise an employee who operates a vehicle in the performance of their duties. The
contractor shall ensure that all of the requirements in this section are included in its subcontract
with any subcontractor, or as applicable.
1. All employees must be properly licensed and trained to operate any vehicle and/or
equipment under the Contract, including CDL and non-CDL revenue vehicles and support
vehicles. All drivers shall be selected by the contractor or subcontractor in accordance with
the terms of applicable state, federal and municipal regulations.
2. Perform pre-employment driver record inquiry with the South Carolina Department of Motor
Vehicles (“SCDMV”), or any state where necessary or applicable.
3. Perform at least annual driver record inquiries, where any of the following infractions will
deem drivers ineligible to drive for any of The COMET transportation services: driving under
the influence of alcohol or drugs/driving while intoxicated; reckless driving/driving to
endanger; leaving the scene of an accident; driving without a license and/or insurance; driving
with a suspended license; or any driving record with multiple or repeated violations (other
than parking)
4. The contractor will also be responsible for the following system-wide driver training
programs: Passenger Sensitivity, Defensive Driving, Wheel Chair Lift & Securement, FTA
Drug/Alcohol Training, OSHA-required training (Blood-borne pathogens, employee right to
know, etc.) and any other training deemed necessary by The COMET. The ability to perform
CPR and provide first aid is required for paratransit operators.
5. The contractor will maintain employment files to include separate training files, which may
be inspected by The COMET at any time for thoroughness and accuracy.
6. The COMET reserves the right to suggest resolutions to driver-related problems and also to
demand the removal of a driver from The COMET service if, in the opinion of The COMET, the
driver is not qualified or has failed to perform their job duties according to The COMET
7. The contractor shall furnish to The COMET any and all documentation and/or access to
documentation requested with regard to the above employee/driver requirements.
8. Each driver shall be knowledgeable of rules and regulations published and promulgated by
the SCDMV, the South Carolina Public Service Commission (“SCPSC”), and the USDOT. Each
driver shall also be knowledgeable of the transportation rules and regulations of the local
authorities and the bylaws and rules of cities and towns serviced by The COMET. The entire
obligation for the driver instruction and supervision lies with the contractor.
9. The contractor shall, upon written complaint from The COMET specifying any excessive
collision claims or an indication of any other incompetence of any driver, immediately take
such action as is necessary to correct such condition.
The contractor or subcontractor shall employ mechanics, shop and bus service attendants
(“cleaners”), and other personnel to perform maintenance on The COMET vehicles. The
contractor shall ensure that all of the requirements in this section are applicable to and are
included in its subcontract with any subcontractor, as applicable. In addition to the required
qualifications for an employee whose position requires behind the wheel duty or supervision of
behind-the-wheel duty, the following is required:
1. Work must be performed by skilled and experienced maintenance personnel based on the
job duties and descriptions. The contractor’s maintenance personnel will be fully
knowledgeable of engines, transmissions, wheelchair lifts, air conditioning, diagnostic
procedures, electrical systems, electronic equipment (fareboxes, signs, communications,
etc.), and related mechanical parts, methods, and procedures used in servicing mechanical
equipment for transit, cutaway-style, over-the-road, and medium-duty buses.
2. Offerors’ proposals shall demonstrate the qualifications for Level A (highest), Level B (midrange), and Level C (entry-level) mechanics. Examples include standards for years of
experience with heavy-duty diesel engines, electrical systems, graduates of a certified
technical/vocational institutes, ASE certifications, or other.
3. Personnel will be trained to proficiency on The COMET’s vehicles and sub-systems prior to
the start of service. The contractor will be required to ensure that all repairs involving
warranted vehicles, sub-systems, parts, etc., are performed at all times by maintenance
personnel who are properly certified to perform such work such that qualifications cannot be
questioned when submitting warranty claims.
4. Mechanics shall receive a minimum level of technical/refresher training annually, to be
identified and described in Offeror’s proposal.
The contractor shall perform all daily duties associated with the direct and indirect operation of
transit services. The contractor shall ensure that all of the requirements in this section are
applicable to and are included in its subcontract with any subcontractor, as applicable. This
includes all costs and staffing associated with the below functions.
1. Opening the O&M Facility, transit center and ensuring facility systems are working as
intended, addressing problems in a timely and effective manner within established and
approved procedures.
2. Preparing and assigning vehicles, operator, and routes based on ridership demands with
consideration of vehicle performance, age and availability. At no time shall operational
convenience override capacity demand or customer service. The COMET reserves the right
to assign sub-fleets of vehicles to specific routes.
3. Ensuring effective pre-trip inspections and documentation of fleet issues that provides for
daily on-time pull-out and first time-point arrival, with all technology systems functional and
properly assigned. Service reliability is essential.
4. Performing all scheduled trips, as monitored by the existing on-board technology and
supervisory staff; maintaining on time performance throughout the day employing
techniques to maintain on-time performance without overly inconveniencing passengers
(i.e., frequently exiting one vehicle for another) or skipping trip segments.
5. Performing all routine duties of transit and paratransit operation, including but limited to:
effective passenger boarding and alighting; proper fare enforcement; safe boarding and
securement of mobility devices; following ADA regulations for service animals, including callouts if automated annunciators are in non-working order; routine visual inspection of
amenities (bus stops, shelters, et al); greet and thanking customers while answering
questions; maintain safe, minimal (but adequate) professional radio conversations;
6. Delivering a community-friendly service that is reflective of the expectations of its citizens
and visitors (i.e., no road rage, aggressive driving, excessive idling, etc.).
7. Opening and closing the transit center, times of which will be generally be within 30 minutes
of the start and end of service, staffing the transit center with desk personnel, answering
telephone calls from customers, providing polite, accurate and responsive information. The
contractor will also sell transit passes, per fare policy.
8. Staffing the paratransit call center and receiving new trip, cancellation and adjustment calls
within the parameters established below, including use of telecommunications device for the
deaf (“TDD”), relay or similar technology.
9. Maintaining all aspects of the service through close of business and performing facility closedown that supports the next day’s operation.
10. Documenting the day’s performance using thorough internal record-keeping of events,
conditions, incidents and issues and providing a Daily Report of Operations for the Executive
11. Supplying supervisor and administrative vehicles, all necessary computers and technology
required for the provision of operator services, except for those identified in the RFP as being
provided by The COMET.
12. Establishing and staffing its own Extra Board to ensure adequate staffing. All extra-board
personnel will be trained and certified to operate all routes, as required. A general description
of this program shall be included in the proposal. The Extra Board rosters (primary and daily
assignments will be made available to The COMET upon request).
13. Using computer assisted scheduling and dispatching software and implementing new
software versions with tablets/MDTs, where applicable, to maximize efficiency and
productivity on behalf of The COMET and enhance reliability for the customers. Dispatch
must make logins and assignments where required for both the contractor and The COMET’s
technology systems WITHOUT ERROR due to the impact of accuracy of information for
14. Reporting an accident immediately to the applicable law enforcement department and the
SCDMV in accordance with state and federal law. The contractor must report immediately or
at the earliest possible opportunity by phone each and every accident or any other event
involving a Contract service vehicle which involves personal injury, delay, or in any way
significantly interferes with the provision of transit services under the Contract schedule. The
contractor shall submit or cause a driver to submit a formal written report to The COMET
within twenty-four (24) hours of the initial notification and to be drug and alcohol tested in
accordance to the Federal Code of Regulations Title 49 Subtitle B Volume 7 Chapter VI Part
655.44, or any successive regulation.
15. Collecting data as required by 49 U.S.C. 5335, as amended, and any other pertinent
information or reports requested by The COMET.
The contractor shall operate The COMET transit vehicles in conformance with all safety
requirements of all state and federal laws to provide the level of service as specified by The
COMET. A formal Maintenance Plan for the fleet, subject to the final approval of the Executive
Director, is required at least thirty (30) days prior to Contract implementation. The contractor is
fully responsible for the garaging, storage, maintenance and care for all vehicles and other vehicle
related equipment owned by The COMET and operated and/or maintained by the contractor.
The contractor shall not enter into a contract with any other party for use of equipment and/or
personnel dedicated to this service without the prior written approval of The COMET.
1. All facilities shall be maintained in a safe and clean condition at all times and equipped
with all necessary mechanics and other personnel to adequately maintain and the fleet
and facilities. Fleet and associated equipment will be maintained according to each
manufacturer's recommended procedures in addition to standards customarily utilized in
the transit industry.
2. At the expiration of the Contract, the contractor shall return such buses and equipment
and materials to The COMET in a condition consistent with good preventive maintenance
practices and is responsible for making all repairs to buses and equipment prior to turning
such equipment over to The COMET.
3. The COMET does not procure or own any parts or inventory. All inventory is owned by
the incumbent contractor, including tires. All material, parts and supply is the
responsibility of the contractor, including the replacement of tires, batteries and all other
wear items and routine repair items that fail during normal vehicle usage. The contractor
shall maintain an adequate parts and supply inventory for repairs for the building,
facilities and vehicles in order to minimize downtime of any vehicle or asset and to
perform preventive maintenance inspections on all equipment as required by the
manufacturer. Inventory for startup is the expense of the contractor, including tires,
fluids, etc. Those items are to be selected, procured and used exclusively by the
4. The COMET does not supply any individual mechanic tools nor a wide-variety of shop
tools. Major mechanical units owned by The COMET and made available to the
contractor, such as tire changers and air conditioning reclaimers are listed in Appendix G.
5. The COMET shall register all vehicles with the South Carolina Department of Motor
Vehicles in its own name or the name of its designee, and retain all titles and rights of
ownership. The contractor is responsible for the inspection of said vehicles as it relates
to the good standing with the vehicle registration.
6. The COMET will pay for engines, transmissions, charge-air & radiators. The COMET will
not pay any costs for warranty labor or parts, labor or parts under warranty that is voided
due to the contractor, manufacturer or seller fault or any labor or parts where the
preventive maintenance schedule and manufacturer steps have not been followed and
documented, e.g. radiators will not be reimbursed, if the incorrect coolant type is used or
preventive maintenance inspections (including oil sampling, where appropriate) have not
been completed. Any and all engine and transmission replacements must be approved in
advance by The COMET. Major fleet rehabilitation at end of life cycle to help extend the
fleet life until replacement shall be at the cost of The COMET, such as floor soft spots,
touch-up paint due to chipping, fading or peeling as a result of non-contact wear and tear,
etc. Anybody damage repair or bumper repair/replacement due to damage is at the full
expense of the contractor.
7. The contractor shall keep, on a monthly basis and in a form consistent with good
preventive maintenance administrative practices, written records of all inventories and
of all maintenance performed on all The COMET vehicles and facilities. The contractor will
be responsible to performing and reconciliation of the physical inventory as required by
The COMET. The contractor shall make available to The COMET, at such time requested,
to meet and review such records.
8. The expectations for fleet availability and repair are, at a minimum:
a. At least 105% of vehicles available for operations based on the required number of
vehicles in revenue service. This provides a 5% spare for revenue service at all times,
leaving up to 15% of remaining vehicles for repairs, inspections or cleaning.
b. Thorough preventive maintenance inspections based upon the manufacturers’
recommended schedules and standards.
The contractor shall perform a
comprehensive review of preventative maintenance (“PM”) inspection forms,
manuals and processes to ensure correct PM processes are completed. It is expected
that 100% of all PM inspections shall be performed on time, as defined as within plus
or minus 500 miles (1,000 mile range).
c. A system to document all requested and actual repairs which shall be made available
to The COMET upon request. Deferred maintenance is expressly forbidden, unless
specifically authorized in advance in writing by The COMET.
d. Use of eco-friendly cleaners and supplies, with specific efforts to reduce waste are
required when possible. Appropriate waste disposal (trash in trash, recycling in
recycling, etc.), including a concerted effort to eliminate high disposability items
where possible (paper towels, use a different trash bag every night, etc.) is required.
e. Maintenance of high quality vehicle exterior and interior aesthetic appeal, which
includes exterior body/bumper damage, lights, paint scratches and scrapes, peeling
paint and decals/appliqués and lighting. Exteriors are to be free of dirt and debris,
including vents, louvers, and windows. Interiors of every vehicle entering into
revenue service shall be cleaned at the end of that day’s revenue service. This
includes, at a minimum: fueling the bus and check fluid levels and add as necessary;
collecting debris and lost & found; sweep, mop, wipe, clean dash/farebox/handrails,
wash windows and empty trash. This shall also occur each time a vehicle leaves the
maintenance shop and is parked at the “ready line” following any service, inspect or
repair. Dented and damaged bumpers are to be replaced promptly.
f. Vehicle detailing, at least twice monthly, to include: wheelchair platform (in both
open and closed positions), windows, seats, ceilings, light fixtures, side panels, front
dash area (control panels, drivers area), floors, steps and step well areas, entrance
and exit door interior, wheel wells, area behind wheel housing, seats, mirrors,
passenger grab rails, and wheel chair towers. No hoses are to be used on a bus
without direct approval, as this may cause moisture damage to the vehicle subfloor.
g. Cleanliness is measured by taking a dry, clean, laundered white colored shop towel
and wiping down the area. If the area yields dirt, debris or similar residue, the area
will be considered unclean and the contractor is subject to liquidated damages. The
areas described above will be checked—at a minimum—for cleanliness.
h. Contractor is responsible for ALL complaints of grease, dirt, etc. from all customers
and must volunteer to pay for the dry cleaning of any customer’s the clothing or items
that are soiled. A more comprehensive list of cleanliness will be prepared between
the contractor and The COMET for each portion of the sub-fleet, as outlined in the
fleet cleanliness component of the required Maintenance Plan.
The contractor is responsible for maintaining The COMET’s O&M Facility and Transit Center,
which are to be kept in good repair and kept clean at all times. All inspections, certificates and
associated documentation are to be maintained on file, posted or both as required by code. This
includes all facilities and equipment at the Transit Center and O&M Facility locations. The below
standards are to be performed at a minimum. The O&M Facility is a high-use area for outside
organizations, such as training or trade groups. Special cleaning may be required for certain
events or during high-use periods. The contractor is encouraged to check The COMET calendar
to plan for such events to ensure standards are maintained. The COMET’s front-desk receptionist
has this calendar and can provide schedules.
1. O&M Facility. Cleaning Schedule:
a. Kitchen/break and restroom areas are to be cleaned daily, with surface cleaning,
sweeping and mopping, with completely separate cleaning materials for one for
restrooms, one for kitchen/break and one for common areas. Kitchen and break areas
will be cleaned, with tables, counters and sinks sanitized and with fully stocked soap
dispensers and drying towels.
b. All public administrative areas (hallways and conference rooms) are to be checked
and cleaned daily to include surfaces (door handles, table tops, light switches), floors
(sweep/mop or vacuum) and all trash and recycling centers emptied and disposed of
in either trash or recycling depositories. The contractor shall use eco-friendly
cleaners, supplies and waste reduction strategies which are to be created,
implemented and reported by the contractor as part of our ongoing commitment to
c. Keyed offices are to be cleaned twice weekly to include trash, recycling and shredder
bins (to correct depository), complete visible surface wipe down (tables and desk,
light switch, etc.), basic feather dusting on cabinet areas and complete vacuum.
d. At least two fully stocked cleaning kits will be made available per floor to allow The
COMET or contractor employees to perform light cleaning when necessary without
contacting maintenance personnel. This kit will be checked daily.
e. Restrooms will be cleaned daily from the separate cleaning materials, with sinks,
toilet/urinals fully sanitized daily, and with mirror, door handles and plumbing fixers
cleaned. All kitchen and restrooms will receive a weekly deep cleaning that includes
all hard surfaces (tiled walls, modesty panels, backsplashes, etc.). No cobwebs shall
be visible.
f. The industrial and high-use nature of the facility creates dents, chips, scratches and
scuffs in drywall, materials and flooring. The contractor shall maintain clean walls and
windows beyond routine janitorial services. The contractor is expected to maintain
clean walls, with patched, matched, and painted surfaces. The contractor shall keep
posters neatly hung, properly fastened and with minimal puncture of drywall.
2. Downtown Transit Center Cleaning Schedule: The Transit Center shall be kept at similarly
high standard of cleanliness and repair.
a. Restrooms are to be checked and cleaned as needed at least every 30 minutes. Trash
and recycling (to be implemented) shall be emptied to ensure no trash receptacle
overflows at any time.
b. Floors are to be consistently monitored for trash and debris, with sweeping and
mopping where necessary. Clean and professional signage to mark wet floors,
surfaces, etc. shall be used for safety.
c. The exterior of the facility to be checked and swept, as needed, at least every 30
minutes to remove trash and debris. Windows, glass doors and mirrors are to be
continually checked for spotting and cleaned where necessary.
d. The customer service counter is to be checked constantly for trash and debris and
wiped at least every 30 minutes.
e. At close, all seating, window, counter and restroom surfaces are to be cleaned or
wiped as described in the above paragraph. The entire floor area, including the
customer service area will be swept and mopped daily, no more than 30 minutes prior
to closing.
f. At least weekly, baseboards and corners will be wiped and no cobwebs shall be visible.
g. Cleanliness will be measured using the white towel method described previously.
The contractor’s personnel—in addition to any subcontractor staff—is expected to maintain
the above standards.
3. Transit Center Security/Maintenance. The contractor shall provide security services,
janitorial, and landscaping services in addition to coordinating all repairs for plumbing,
HVAC, and electrical. The costs for major facility repairs shall be a pass through expense
and must be pre-approved by The COMET. For all other services (i.e., janitorial) the
contractor will procure its own sub-contractors and manage the performance to The
COMET’s expectations. Once procured, The COMET will end its contracts with all
associated vendors and will not be responsible for maintaining these contracts.
a. For any repairs identified as pass-through or are paid for directly by The COMET but
arranged by the contractor must be pre-approved in all cases except for emergency.
An established record of authorization, documentation and submittal to The COMET
will be established. The contractor is expected to perform routine patching and paint,
basic plumbing, electrical, and light carpentry, diagnostics and repair vs. calling a
repair contractor for each issue. If The COMET continually sees pass-through labor
expenses in lieu of performing the repair, liquidated damages under “failure to
perform repair” will be assessed in addition to paying for the cost of the repair
contactor and parts.
b. The COMET must pre-approve all signage, décor or furniture additions to the facility
and will continue to provide enhancements such as passenger seating and soon-to-be
replaced exterior benches and shelters (all permanent fixtures).
c. Vending and advertising at the transit center by any entity other than The COMET is
A comprehensive Monthly Report is required to be submitted with invoice by the 10th calendar
day of the month, in a format ready for presentation to the Board via the agenda package. This
does not limit the data to be requested or collected but is a minimum reporting
expectation. These are to be provided separately for fixed route and paratransit. For each
measure, list a Performance Target that is EXPECTED (i.e., ZERO accidents is wished; however, it
is very unlikely that will occur) and provide a comparison of the same month the prior year, and
the variance with a clear indictor of whether the goal achieved meets or exceed expectations.
Any targets that do not match industry standard or local expectations must be explained.
The following shall be reported separately for paratransit and fixed route service:
1. Safety Measures: This year and last year data for each calendar month. The purpose of
these reports is to share with the public that we provide safe service to our customers,
ensure our contractor protects the citizens that work for our contractor but are the face
of The COMET, and protect the assets of the organization. Measures include:
a. Gate-to-Gate accidents/injuries per 100,000 revenue miles
b. Non-Gate-to-Gate accidents/injuries per 100,000 revenue miles
c. Total accidents/Injuries AND per 100,000 vehicle miles (note: we are not interested in
categories of preventable and non-preventable)
d. List of all such all accidents/injuries with pertinent details (route, day of week, time of
day, description or accident, estimated cost of damage, number of days vehicle was
deemed out of service, preventable status as deemed by contractor and recap of
employee re-training where applicable)
e. Number of employee injuries, as reported by position description, per 200,000 labor
f. Number of DOT reportable Accidents
g. Number of DOT reportable drug tests and alcohol tests
h. Number of drug/alcohol tests performed with complete list of test dates and times,
including reason for testing, I.e. Pre-employment, post-accident (note DOT or nonDOT), reasonable suspicion, other—no names or results are to be included.
i. Average hours of safety training per employee on the applicable reporting period
j. Employee attendance percent at safety meetings (# signed in/total number of
employees), with copies of all safety meeting agendas
k. Total number of “behind the wheel” observations per safety sensitive employee
l. Total number of “trail checks” per safety sensitive employee
m. Copies of all posted safety memos and operational policies, including minutes of
employee safety committees or similar workgroups
2. Reliability Measures: The COMET understands “it all begins with pull-out” so the
contractor must track routine measures of reliability with an emphasis on pull-outs.
Tracking measures must include:
a. On-time performance of operator reports (list total number of miss out-no report /
total reports by run cut)
b. Total number of call-ins (unplanned) for absences
c. Number of late gate departures (list total number of late gate departures / total
departures), as measured by AVL system
d. List of ALL instances where revenue service is performed by a non-operator and hours
of service provided. NOTE: This includes supervisors picking-up/dropping off
customers in-lieu of a fixed route vehicle in operation
e. Average number of available vehicles for revenue service at first report for each day
of the month
f. On-time performance shall be measured by The COMET’s AVL service and shall be
available to the contractor to log the following information.
g. Average on-time performance and number of service delays, missed trips and road
calls, both overall and by route for the month
h. Same data as in subparagraph 7) above, but broken into days of the week, then
i. Same data as in subparagraph 7) above, but broken down into peak & off-peak (peak
6-9 am & 3-6 pm; off peak: all other times)
j. On-time performance is strictly defined as: a vehicle arriving no more than one minute
BEFORE a scheduled (published) time or departing more than three FULL minutes
AFTER the published time. To be clear, this provides a full 60 seconds before the clock
“turns” and nearly four full minutes “after” the clock turns—i.e. 12:00 pm on the
schedule allows for 11:59:00—>12:03:59 as “on-time” for a four-minute and fifty-nine
second window.
k. Number of early departures (NOTE: Early departures are strictly forbidden)
l. List of special events, weather, traffic accidents or similar conditions that impact ontime performance, listed by date, times and route
m. List of all vehicles towed, by date, time and reason, along with the method used for
continuing the trip. This may include a brief narrative if necessary.
n. Specifically, for Paratransit, all no-show customers must be documented. The noshow passengers must be verified before they are reported, and the report must
distinguish between no-show passengers and acceptable cancellations (two hours
prior to scheduled pickup). The COMET will review all no-show passengers for
3. Friendliness Measures: The COMET is interested in how friendly the system is to its
current and prospective customers. Contractor must maintain the following reports for
inspection and review by The COMET:
a. Total number of calls received
b. Total number of complaints of any form and calculated as:
I. Complaints per 10,000 revenue hours
Complaints per 100,000 miles
These complaints shall be tracked separately into categories of:
1) Safety
2) Reliability
3) Friendliness
4) Cleanliness & Comfort
5) Planning/Service requests
c. The number of complaints of any form and calculated as in subparagraph b) above.
d. A separate system of customer contact responsiveness reporting shall be developed
following the implementation of any software or tracking system that shall include, at
a minimum, the above along with time between first complaint and response, as well
as mechanisms to confidentially track complaints by employee based on a to-bedetermined frequency of complaints.
4. Cleanliness/Comfort: The contractor must provide The COMET with the following
information regarding the level of cleanliness and comfort for its customers.
a. List of every bus trade-out performed, regardless of reason, once a bus leaves the
gate-to-gate service to include date, time, route vehicle number, reason for trade,
number of passengers on board at time of trade, and method of how the bus returned
to the facility (driven or towed).
b. List of every field repair performed, regardless of reason, once a bus leaves the gateto-gate service to include date, time, route vehicle number, reason for repair, number
of passengers on board at time of trade, and method of how the bus returned to the
facility (driven or towed).
c. List of every vehicle and number of days the vehicle was operated with out-of-order
components to include: Destination Sign; wheelchair lift/platform; kneel; AVL; onboard annunciator; on-board visual notification panel (LED); handheld radio; air
conditioning/heat (where applicable).
d. List of all vehicles and the actual mileage for the month, year-to-date and life-to-date
e. List of all vehicles receiving a preventive maintenance inspection and the miles since
the prior inspection, as separated by sub-fleet and in total
f. List of all vehicles receiving deep-cleaning and date(s) performed
g. Quarterly, the following reports shall be provided:
I. The data required in subparagraphs a through f) above, condensed into a
singular Quarterly Report that provides a rolling 24-month review in format as
close to the above as possible, excluding duplicative reports (I.e., memos,
policies, lists, etc.). The COMET Executive Director will meet with the
contractor to identify what items shall be excluded from the quarterly report
to eliminate excessive redundancy.
A written summary of trends identified by the General Manager, and the
contractor’s assessment of its performance including mechanisms to address
positive and negative trends.
Copies of all facility walk-throughs, facility reviews, audits, OSHA
complaints/review, inspection findings or any other similar report, performed
either on a local or corporate bases, regarding work under the Contract. This
must also include steps taken to remedy and deficiencies until resolved.
Note that a verbal notification of results to The COMET does not replace the need to
document such results in the report.
h. Annually, the following reports shall be provided:
I. The data required in subparagraphs a) through f) above condensed into a
singular Annual Report that provides a rolling review, dating to one years prior
to start of the Contract (will require some historical tracking—and where data
not collected, it shall be noted), in format as close to the above as possible,
excluding duplicative reports (I.e., memos, policies, etc.)
A written summary of trends identified by the General Manager, and
contractor assessment of its performance including mechanisms to address
positive and negative trends.
The Executive Director will meet with the contractor to identify what items
shall be excluded from the annual report to eliminate excessive redundancy.
The contractor will be required to submit, along with the monthly invoice for service,
a statistical ridership report for paratransit services. The contractor must maintain
record of the following information to be available if requested by The COMET:
I. The names of the passengers for each trip
The origin and destination for each trip
The pick-up and drop-off time for each passenger
IV. The odometer reading for each pick-up and drop-off
V. The vehicle number and the driver name providing service
VI. Maintenance records for each vehicle
VII. Accident/Incident reports and complaints
The contractor and The COMET shall agree on the proper format for documentation
listed in this section. If the contractor fails to provide such documentation within the
specified time period requested, The COMET may withhold all or any portion of any
reimbursements due to the contractor for any period of service, as set forth in the
attached draft Contract, until The COMET received the required documentation in a
form satisfactory to The COMET.
1. The COMET‘s paratransit service is known as DART (“dial-a-ride transportation”) and
historically The COMET has purchased an annual Trapeze license, and any modules or
upgrades where necessary, as well as critical hardware related to the program. This RFP
requires Offeror to provide a solution in its proposal to supply its own comprehensive
technology package for paratransit services (and rural/flex service) for scheduling,
dispatching, record-keeping, etc. Offeror must propose all servers (local or cloud),
workstations (PC or thin client), and mobile data terminals (tablets or MDCs). The COMET
does NOT require any specific product, such as Trapeze, RouteMatch, etc. The Offeror
must propose the system, the modules, and the technology it will install on paratransit
vehicles. As previously described, The COMET is anticipating a full paratransit vehicle
replacement during 2015. As such the on-board items must be ready for installation on
the new vehicles as they arrive.
2. Offerors are encouraged to use outside DBE firms, taxi providers or other resources to
bring a creative approach to paratransit services and minimize costs, especially in the
provision of rural transportation. Offerors shall adhere to FTA, Department of Justice
(“DOJ”) and any associated rules or guidelines related to ADA and paratransit service.
Employees of the contractor or subcontractor shall be trained on applying the ADA
requirements with Dispatch & Supervision and Senior Management of the contractor and
any subcontractors all possessing on-the-fly working knowledge of the current rules,
trends and innovations for delivering exceptional service to customers. All contractor or
subcontractor policies must be in compliance with current ADA rules, regulations and
policies. The COMET is procuring not only service delivery but also industry expertise.
3. Presently, five work stations are available; however, all workstations are due for
replacement, as is the Trapeze server. The Offerors must include in their pricing the
assumption of all paratransit technology and include new MDTs/tablets. The proposals
must identify and document actual costs for these technologies as separate line items, as
The COMET has funds for technology (hardware/and software) acquisition that may be
eligible for reimbursement. When the Contract is implemented, The COMET will end its
annual license renewal and work with the incumbent and contractor for database transfer
of information, passenger files, etc. for inclusion in the new or upgraded package.
Due to state and federal participation in the funding of The COMET services, various
administrative procedures and reporting will be necessary to insure compliance with the state
and federal requirements and regulations.
1. Safety Committee [OFFEROR INFORMATION TO BE INCLUDED IN Tab 3]: The contractor
shall establish an employee-based safety committee and meet on a monthly basis to
discuss such issues as accidents, unsafe practices, security issues, training refreshers and
program improvements, etc. The COMET may appoint a representative to be a member
of this committee. A general description of this program shall be submitted with the
2. Disaster Recovery Plan [OFFEROR INFORMATION TO BE INCLUDED IN Tab 3]: The
contractor, in coordination with information from The COMET, must provide a written
disaster recovery plan to be used in the event of a fire or any other disaster within sixty
(60) days of execution of contract. This disaster recovery plan must include at a minimum
off-site storage of fleet and critical supplies, secure backup of key data and information,
adequate facilities, and sufficient equipment to allow resumption of essential operating
functions (including data processing and revenue handling) within twenty-four (24) hours
of the disaster). Other required elements include but are not limited to: furnishing cell
phones or other The COMET-approved communication devices for operators to maintain
communications in the event radio communications system becomes inoperative and
securing the buses by providing a security guard or by other method when vehicles are
idle, in the event the secured bus yard is off-limits. On at least an annual basis, the plan
shall be reviewed, modified, updated, etc. Unless the disaster is the result of a willful act
or negligence on the contractor’s part, The COMET will pay for reasonable extra costs
associated with implementing the Disaster Recovery Plan. A general description of this
program shall be submitted with the proposal.
3. Records & Support [OFFEROR INFORMATION TO BE INCLUDED IN Tab 4]: The Contractor
must fully cooperate in developing all required materials, keeping them current, and
compiling and supplying supporting documents as needed to ensure The COMET is in
compliance with all federal requirements, as evaluated during Triennial reviews and other
federal audits. A general description of these programs shall be submitted with the
4. Printing [OFFEROR INFORMATION TO BE INCLUDED IN Tab 3]: The contractor, through
its Operators, Dispatchers, Supervisors, Managers, and Transit Center operation has the
most current knowledge of the inventory of bus schedules and maps available for
schedule racks located on the vehicle and around town. The COMET is shifting
responsibility for map and schedule printing to the contractor, under the following
a. The contractor will submit copies of invoices as a separate line-item in its invoicing.
b. Printing on recycled paper is required, where possible.
c. The COMET will NOT reimburse for shipping costs or rush orders and shipping built
into pricing is unacceptable.
d. The COMET will provide camera-ready graphics to the printer, and requires the
contractor and its printer to work with The COMET’s outside graphics firm for timely
turnaround of proofs, information and delivery.
e. The contractor is responsible for ordering an adequate and just-in-time supply of
maps and schedules, store housing the materials, making them available to
employees and customers and restocking any and all transit information centers.
f. Low-quality print materials will not be reimbursed by The COMET and will not be
distributed to the public.
g. Excessive waste of schedules or inadequate stocking of schedules is unacceptable and
subject to liquidated damages. Any orders after a vote of a known service change are
not reimbursable unless stock levels are determined be near exhausted, and approved
by The COMET.
h. The COMET reserves the right to work with the contractor for printing of additional
posters, as necessary.
1. The contractor is responsible for providing uniforms to employees based on the
provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreements (“CBA”). Please note The COMET does
not provide ANY uniforms, laundry services, mats, shop rags or other materials. Those are
the full responsibility of the contractor. ALL employees, excepting the Senior
Management team, are to be uniformed while providing services under the contract.
Subcontractors performing operations or field work must also wear uniforms. To avoid
confusion among riders, contractor or subcontractors shall not place their own logos on
uniforms, unless approved in writing by the Executive Director. Tokens of performance
or employee appreciation, such as lapel pins, service awards or similar may be worn.
Contractors may submit additional of uniform style and color changes or additions for
review and approval by the Executive Director.
2. Vehicle operators, supervisors, trainers, mechanics, cleaners, et al. must maintain a clean
and neat appearance, and must be in approved uniforms. Employees shall have a clean
and presentable uniform at the start of each day. Each employee must also adhere to a
code of personal grooming and hygiene established by the contractor in conjunction with
3. The COMET shall supply each contractor employee a photo ID/proximity badge, badge
retractor and clip. Replacements due to drastic change in appearance, fading or wear of
the graphics and badges that become inactive are replaced at no cost. All other
replacements shall be paid directly to The COMET at a fee of no less than $10.00 per
replacement. All Photo IDs and badge-making equipment is the property of The COMET.
1. The contractor will collect all of The COMET’s fares and passes and record all ridership.
The contractor shall collect fares based on the Fare Schedule as published by The COMET
from time to time. The fare policy and pass materials are the sole and exclusive right of
2. Each revenue vehicle operated under the Contract is equipped, or will be equipped, with
a fare box or collection system. The contractor or subcontractor, in coordination with The
COMET, will be responsible for selling and distributing tickets, passes, or other fare
systems instituted by The COMET. The contractor shall purchase passes direct from The
COMET for walk-up sales at the Transit Center. The contractor is exclusively responsible
for reconciling their employee cash/ticket sales bags, depositing their own pass sales
revenue and maintaining adequate levels of bills and denominations. The COMET is
relying on its contractor to act as its retail outlet for pass sales. The contractor must
maintain a Visa/MasterCard credit card machine at the Transit Center. There is a
telephone line at the Transit Center for such use. The COMET will allow the contractor to
submit documented credit card vendor fees, not to exceed more than 2.5% of total credit
card sales, as a pass through expense with the monthly invoice. For mutual convenience,
bulk pass sales will be conducted by The COMET’s administrative staff.
3. The contractor shall maintain the security of fareboxes and the associated revenue
collection system. The contractor shall be responsible for providing security over
collected funds, equipment in service, and all inventoried fareboxes and associated
equipment. The COMET’s revenue accounting and reconciliation requires the contractor
perform preventive maintenance on all fareboxes, as required under manufacturer
schedule to include hoppers, receiver and vaults. The contractor shall also perform actual
collections audits at prescribed intervals, including unannounced revenue counts to
compare actual collections against actual deposits. Finally the contractor shall assist with
tracking all variances in revenues and ridership when requested to support The COMET’s
desire to report accurate and timely fare data.
The COMET shall be responsible for all marketing and advertising programs and promotions. All
revenues obtained in the sale of advertising will be retained by The COMET. The COMET will
provide all on-board flyers or “car cards” for ad rails and information centers and the contractor
shall be responsible for prompt posting and timely removal of expired information.
The contractor shall not advertise, either by public means, handbills or direct mail, for the
services being provided without prior approval of The COMET. The contractor will coordinate
with The COMET for all promotions.
1. The COMET, with support and coordination of the contractor, shall establish all routes,
schedules, fares and policies for the operation of transportation service and policy. The
contractor agrees to make recommendations periodically (or when requested by The
COMET) concerning changes in routes, schedules, fares or policies. The contractor shall
prepare all necessary documentation and, if needed, provide testimony relative to any
contemplated change in schedule or classification of fares or in service or in routing. Any
change in schedules is subject to the approval of The COMET.
2. Paratransit Service Standards:
a. All paratransit service should be scheduled and operated as efficiently as possible but
not allow a passengers’ scheduled time on a vehicle to exceed 60 minutes after the
pickup time when traveling within the same community, or 90 minutes when traveling
to an adjacent community. Paratransit trips shall be comparable in length to a similar
trip on a fixed route.
b. All paratransit service should be scheduled and operated as efficiently as possible and
within the guidelines of 49 CFR Part 37.
c. Drivers are required to wait a full five (5) minutes for a passenger pickup after making
their presence known (within the scheduled pickup window). They may wait longer
so that no other passenger trip is inconvenienced. Drivers are only to provide origin
to destination service, meaning it is the responsibility of the passenger to enter and
exit their home and other destinations. It is the driver’s responsibility to assist any
passenger needing or requesting assistance in order to board or alight the
vehicle. The driver’s responsibility is to wait at the passenger’s destination to make
sure they enter before leaving.
d. Drivers must be prepared to operate the Wheelchair Lift and to assist any person in
need of assistance onto the bus at any origin or destination.
e. All calls should have a hold time shorter than 3 minutes. At least 98% of calls should
have hold times shorter than 2 minutes. At least 90% of calls should have hold times
shorter than 1 minute.
f. At least 90% of trips should be within 0–30 minutes prior to the appointment time.
No trips should be more than 60 minutes prior to the appointment time or beyond
the appointment time.
g. At least 95% of trips should be in or before the window listed in the ADA service
3. All Operator Services:
a. All drivers are expected to wear photo badges identifying their first name and last
initial (provided by The COMET). Badges must be visible to passengers.
b. If any accident or breakdown should occur with any The COMET vehicle, the
contractor shall take immediate steps to attempt to provide a replacement vehicle for
the damaged vehicle.
c. The contractor shall not permit any vehicle to be used in violation of any rule or policy
promulgated by The COMET regarding hours and type of service to be offered to the
public, routes of operations, schedules, fares to be charged, driver conduct, and must
abide by all applicable state and federal laws and regulations.
d. The contractor shall not engage in charter service operation utilizing equipment or
facilities of The COMET, except as provided under Section 3(f) of the Federal Transit
Act, as amended, 49 U.S.C. app. § 1602 (f), and FTA regulations “Charter Service” 49
C.F.R. part 604, and any amendments thereto that may be issued.
e. The contractor may not engage in school bus operations, utilizing equipment or
facilities of The COMET, exclusively for the transportation of students or school
personnel in competition with private school bus operators, except as provided in
Section 3(g) of the Federal Transit Act, as amended, 49 U.S.C. app. § 1602(g), and FTA
regulations "School Bus Operations," 49 C.F.R. Part 605, and any amendments thereto
that may be issued.
1. The contractor will adhere to The COMET’s policies for communications in the event a
route is cancelled or any reduction of transportation services by The COMET due to
inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
2. The contractor shall coordinate and follow The COMET’s procedures for how service
changes (permanent, temporary, and immediate) are communicated to operators,
supervisors, trainers, and other “need to know” parties. An essential piece is the process
of notification when temporary changes are no longer in place. Ensuring that substitute
operators and those assigned new pieces of work are aware of changes is also essential.
Since operators may not read such communications, secondary means are needed.
3. The contractor shall deploy sufficient field personnel to monitor/supervise operations to
ensure smooth, consistent implementation of new and modified services.
4. The COMET reserves the right to adjust service levels during the term of this RFP. This
includes any adjustment necessary in vehicles allocated to perform this service. The
COMET shall have the option to add or delete from the given schedule or to re-deploy the
service to other areas based on demand, increase of service productivity, or other
reasons. The contractor will provide service subject to route changes, additions, and
deletions during the term of the Contract.
5. The contractor is responsible for providing both initial and on-going blocking, run- cutting,
and other related functions, using scheduling software, reporting and documentation.
The COMET reserves the right to approve all blocking and run-cuts. The full initial run-cut
shall be submitted to The COMET’s approval at least ninety (90) days before
implementation of the Contract.
6. The contractor shall provide and maintain turn sheets or diver paddles for revenue vehicle
movements. The tools constitute the official route descriptions and will be used for
training and in-service use. The contractor shall provide and maintain turn sheets for all
out-of-service moves, including but not limited to deadheads, which shall include
recommended routings, as well as alternate routings for each move and preferred and
alternate staging locations.
7. The contractor shall provide appropriate personnel to assist and coordinate with such
efforts as locating and re-locating bus stops and preferred deviation stops, timing/retiming routes, developing alternative run-cuts, investigating new and revised routing and
scheduling options, solving loading problems, and other operations planning assistance.
This assistance may require somewhat intensive use of run-cutters, operations staff, etc.
for a couple of weeks.
In the event of a strike by employees of the contractor that causes a disruption in the provision
of service as outlined in this RFP, The COMET may, at its discretion, terminate the Contract
without penalty. Alternatively, The COMET may temporarily procure services from another
provider(s), in which case the contractor shall be responsible for any and all costs associated with
the provision of such service that is above the unit cost being paid to the contractor at the time.
The contractor shall not be entitled to payment of any funds for services not being provided due
to a strike. Any and all damages to The COMET vehicles caused by interim operators shall be the
contractor’s responsibility to repair.
Mutually agreed upon changes in the Contract between The COMET and the contractor may
require a change in either the Contract pricing. If a mutually agreeable effective hourly rate
cannot be established, The COMET shall make the final determination. The contractor shall have
the right to challenge that determination as provided in The COMET’s Procurement and Contract
Administration Policy.
If at any time during the term of the Contract or at any time after the expiration or termination
of the Contract, authorized representatives of The COMET or of any other federal or state agency
funding, in whole or in part, the Contract, audit the contractor’s performance under the Contract
and such audit finds that the contractor overcharged for its services to The COMET's, contractor
agrees that the difference shall be either: (a) repaid within thirty (30) days to The COMET by cash
payment, or (b) at The COMET's option, credited against any future payments required under the
Contract. If such audit finds that The COMET's owes the contractor more for services provided
under the Contract, The COMET shall pay the difference to the contractor by cash payment within
thirty (30) days, provided that in no event shall the repayment exceed The COMET's maximum
obligation to the contractor for the audit period.
A. CONTENT OF THE PRICING PROPOSAL: The COMET requests all Offerors to prepare and submit
cost information as follows:
Appendix C: Start-Up Cost Proposal
Appendix C: Fixed Route Cost Proposal
Appendix C: Paratransit Cost Proposal
Appendix C: Current and Projected Cost Proposal Matrix
All of the above sections of Appendix C referred to above should be completed and submitted in
a separate sealed envelope. Specifically, nine (9) copies of the Price Proposals (also referred to
as “Cost Proposal”) should be submitted in a separate envelope clearly marked as “Price Proposal
Forms”. Pricing SHALL NOT be included in the technical proposal or on the CD or USB drive.
Failure to submit separate technical and pricing proposals will result in rejection of the entire
The Start-Up Cost Proposal shall identify all costs required for the contractor to be ready to
perform the contact as of the commencement date. These costs should be non-recurring, onetime expenses to be incurred by the contractor prior to the operational commencement date.
Show the gross dollar amount to be incurred. These amounts should be an All-Inclusive, Not to
Exceed total by line item. Also, provide the amount of DBE expense applicable for each respective
line item and cross-reference it by number to the identified DBE contractor provided in Appendix
B captioned Schedule of DBE Participation. The COMET reserves the right to request copies of
actual invoices incurred by the successful Offeror for any or all costs actually incurred by the
contractor for Start-Up Costs. The Offeror should outline in narrative form, its billing preference
for payment to the contracted for all Start-Up Costs (i.e. 100% paid up front, amortized ratably
over the term or the contract, or some other preference).
The Offeror should state the annualized Total All-In Cost of providing the Fixed Route Service at
the current service level. Start-Up Costs should NOT be included in this section. The Offeror
should convert the annualized total cost to an overall effective hourly rate at the current level of
service for Fixed Route Services. The Offeror should identify the annualized cost of any DBE
expense identified for each respective line item and cross-reference it by number to the
identified DBE contractor provided in Appendix C. For Other Expenses not shown in the schedule
provided, the Offeror should fully describe such items and the cost associated therewith.
The Offeror should state the annualized Total All-In Cost of providing the Paratransit Service at
the current service level. Start-Up Costs should NOT be included in this section. The Offeror
should convert the annualized total cost to an overall effective hourly rate at the current level of
service for Paratransit Services. The Offeror should identify the annualized cost of any DBE
expense identified for each respective line item and cross-reference it by number to the
identified DBE contractor provided in the Appendix C . For Other Expenses not shown in the
schedule provided, the Offeror should fully describe such items.
The Offeror should populate all cells shown in Appendix C, entitled Current and Projected Cost
Proposal Matrix. The Matrix has two sections: one for Fixed Route Services and the other for
Paratransit Services. Please enter the Effectively Hourly Rate for each respective level of service.
Note that estimated weekday service hours are delineated in the vertical column and estimated
weekend service hours are delineated running horizontally. Note that the current service levels
are to be entered in the top left cell box for the Fixed Matrix and the Paratransit Matrix.
Essentially, this Matrix will begin in the top left cell by populating that cell with the Effective Hour
Rate derived from the detailed current service level proposal information contained in the
respective Fixed Route Cost Proposal (Item C. above) and the Paratransit Cost Proposal (Item D.
above). From there, the Offeror should disclose the Effective Hourly Rate for each Tier shown
vertically (weekday service hours), as well as the weekend service hours shown horizontally. The
Effective Hourly Rate should exclude Start-Up Cost, but should include all other annualized costs.
F. CPI INCREASE. Prices shall remain firm for the initial five (5) year term of the Contract except as
otherwise provided in subsection 4.4 thereof. Thereafter, requests for consideration of a price
adjustment above the automatic CPI increase must be made on or before February 15 of each
succeeding option year, in writing, to the Director. Price adjustments are dependent upon budget
availability and the Board’s approval, and will take effect on July 1 of the same year.
A pre-evaluation review of each original document will determine if the Offer is responsive by
meeting all required criteria. Non-responsive offers will be notified of disqualification for lack of
responsiveness. Responsive proposals will be evaluated by the Evaluation Committee.
Each responsive Offeror will be invited make an oral presentation to the Evaluation Committee
within the date range in the timetable (reserve schedules). Guidance for oral interviews will be
provided by the Procurement Officer in the formal notice for the interviews. The Evaluation
Committee will take into consideration oral presentations and written proposals in each of the
evaluation criteria listed below.
The Evaluation Committee will evaluate and score the proposals based on the technical proposal
and appendices provided by the Offeror. Proposals shall be evaluated using only the evaluation
criteria stated in this RFP and there must be adherence to the assigned weighting. The Price
Proposals will be scored by the Procurement Officer and added to the Evaluation Committee
scoring for each Offeror to determine the ranking of the Offerors from most advantageous to
least advantageous to The COMET, considering only the evaluation factors stated in this RFP. The
Procurement Officer will transmit the Evaluation Committees’ ranking to the Board for approval
to begin negotiations with the highest ranked Offeror.
Offeror Qualifications/Experience
Key Personnel Qualifications and Staff Plan
Approach to Service Quality: Includes DBE firm capabilities and integration within the
Offeror’s service implementation
Client Satisfaction, Reporting and References
DBE Engagement & Goal Achievement: The Offeror with the highest percentage of DBE
participation that fulfills the provisions of commercially useful function and good faith
effort with proper documentation will receive the maximum points available.
Price —Offerors are reminded that they shall provide their Price Proposal in a separate
sealed envelope and shall NOT make any reference to its pricing strategy in its technical
proposal. The Offeror with the lowest hourly rate will receive the maximum points
available for price. The other Offerors shall get a pro rata number of pricing points. The
COMET reserves the right to deem any price proposal that attempts to undercut pricing
at the expense of the system, community or workforce non-responsible and nonresponsive for that section, and Offeror’s proposal will be rejected.
C. NEGOTIATIONS: If necessary, as provided for in The COMET Procurement and Contract
Administration Policy, negotiations will begin promptly following notification to the highest
ranked Offeror, which is expected to occur after the October 22, 2014, Board Meeting. The
COMET reserves the right to negotiate with the next ranked Offeror, as provided for in the
Procurement and Contract Administration Policy.
D. AWARD: Following final negotiations, a contract, substantially similar to the draft “CENTRAL
MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT” attached hereto as Appendix D and incorporated herein as if fully
set forth herein, shall be put before the Board at the next available Board meeting for approval.
After the Board votes to award a contract, notice of “Intent to Award” will be issued to all
Offerors along with a notice to the unsuccessful Offerors’ of their right to protest the award under
The COMET’s Procurement and Contract Administration Policy.