Suburban Seattle Public Transport District
To Save Up to $18 Million
January 30, 1997
Community Transit (Snohomish County) provides more than 35 percent of its bus service (1994) through one of the nation’s largest competitive contracts (more than 75 buses). Most of the agency’s longer peak hour express services are competitively contracted, with average passenger trip lengths of 23 miles (compared to 9 miles for internally produced services). While services of this type tend to be more costly than more locally oriented services, competitive contracting makes Community Transit’s express services less expensive than its local services --- by $30 per vehicle hour. The private company’s operating employees are represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union local that represents Community Transit employees. Policy is not separated from operations.
• Competitive contracting costs per vehicle hour in 1994 were 45 percent lower than non-competitive costs in the last year of non-competitive operation (by Metro, under non-competitive contract)..
• The lower costs per vehicle hour permitted Community Transit to expand its competitively contracted service by 90 percent with a four percent increase in operating costs since the last year of Metro operation (through 1994 inflation adjusted).
• Ridership increased by 69 percent and passenger miles by 205 percent since competitive contracting began.
Late in 1996, Community Transit re-procured its express service. Private proposal costs were from 13 to 32 percent below Community Transit’s internal proposal cost, with the contract award producing 23 percent savings. Cost savings over the five year contract will be from $10 million to $18 million (depending on the level of service contracted through Community Transit by the Regional Transit Authority).