Can Brega Handle its Recently Won Bus Contract?

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

New City – The County Legislature recently re-awarded a much-contested $70 million bus contract to Brega Transportation Corp., but questions remain from critics as to whether the company can handle a contract of this size.

In an interview with the Rockland County Times, an anonymous source close to the situation claimed the company had operated similar routes for Camp Venture in the past, but was ill-equipped to handle the significantly larger transit system called for in the new agreement.

“Brega Transport never operated a fixed route transit system,” the source stated. “They only operated a small bus company with 10 vans, maybe transporting 10 handicapped passengers per bus to Camp Venture.”

The tipster is not alone in his concerns. On May 30, Rockland Transit Corp., a Coach USA subsidy which operated Transport of Rockland and Tappan ZEExpress for several years, sent a letter to County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef asking him to throw out the recently-renewed contract between the county and Brega.

Echoing the concerns of the source, Rockland Transit cited concerns about Brega’s lack of experience with bus systems of the size necessary to run the agreed upon routes and unusually low bid.

“Transporting about 75 people daily on 10 buses is not comparable to the requirement to operate and maintain the Rockland and Tappan Zee Express public transit system using about 62 buses and providing 9,300 rides per day,” Rockland Transit’s legal counsel wrote in the letter.

The source went on to explain the legislature awarded the contract based on an evaluation of three employees who he claims were unqualified to work in the capacity the contract demanded. Additionally, he claimed Brega was not as prepared as other bidders when it came to the safety and maintenance buses, making them a less desirable choice.

“The other two bidders have safety departments and maintenance departments within both corporations that overlook the divisions throughout the country to make sure everything is done safely and properly,” The source added. “Brega has nothing to compare to that.”

In spite of the concerns, the County Legislature did spend time examining Brega’s abilities and deemed them capable of fulfilling the contract. In September 2012, they examined Brega’s fitness to manage the bus contract and determined they were capable of managing the routes.

Included among the evidence the legislature used to reach their decision was Brega’s satisfaction of the Federal Transportation Authority’s “Responsibility Criteria,” which examines a company’s administrative capacity, technical capacity and performance record, among other areas. The legislature also vetted Brega’s management team, arguing it “…has maintained multiple contracts totaling $1 billion and over 5,000 buses.”

Coach USA declined to comment on matters pertaining to the lawsuit and Brega Transportation Corp. did not return requests for comment. However, in response to the letter from Rockland Transit, Brega argued it was common practice to shut smaller bus companies out of lucrative contracts which might encourage their expansion.

Though the contract was passed by the legislature and signed by the county executive shortly thereafter, it has been placed on hold until Vanderhoef comes to a final decision. Vanderhoef has until Monday to reach a decision.

Brega could not be reached for comment in this story.