County Looks to Future with TOR and TZx Bus Services

The Rockland Department of Public Transportation announced this week that ten vendors have downloaded the RFB from the Purchasing Department website for the county’s fixed-route bus service. The RFB was issued on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 and bids are due back on March 16, 2012. The county expects to see a number of competitive bids in this procurement.

The county is seeking a bus operator for TOR and TZx that has experience in providing all aspects of a public transportation program, including the operation and maintenance of transit services and facilities and necessary supporting activities such as planning, routing, scheduling, dispatching, marketing, ITS technology management, reporting, customer service and other abilities needed to operate a comprehensive transit system. The operator must have experience providing equivalent public transit fixed-route service, similar in size and scope to Rockland’s.

TOR and TZx provide approximately 3.5 million rides a year and play a critical role in providing residents with access to employment, health care, education and community services. As such, the County must ensure that its bus service keeps pace with the needs of its riders. The service that will result from the RFB will utilize the existing County-owned bus fleet, and will offer features already provided on TOR and TZx, along with upgrades of current features and other features standard in public transit bus operations.

The County’s current bus operator already provides some level of Computer Aided Dispatch/Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL), Driver Feedback Training System (DFTS) and a farebox collection system, all of which would need to be provided should another vendor be chosen to operate the services. The RFB provides bidders with the specifications for such systems, as well as specifications for other systems that TOR and TZx will require.

• Computer Aided Dispatch/Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL) equipment is necessary for proper dispatching, operation, and location of buses, which are major County assets. Coupled with GPS this system allows the bus dispatcher (and the County) to know at all times where every bus is, estimates of real-time arrivals and departures, as well as a basis for dispatching replacement buses or maintenance efforts when the need arises.

• The Driver Feedback Training System (DFTS) is intended to improve driver training, increase safety and provide better service to the County’s ridership. This is a digital recording camera system installed in the front of the bus which records vehicle motion, speed and other particulars and then contrasts that with periodic driver actions to enable specific feedback to management on how drivers react to the myriad of transit bus situations, from passenger customer service interaction to road and driving conditions. This equipment is current industry best practice for the operation of fixed-route transit services. The RFB calls out in detail the minimum requirements, and also clearly defines County access to the system and County ownership at the end of the contract.

• Fare collection equipment (the Farebox) is necessary to help standardize bus fare collection methodology, reduce or eliminate revenue losses, alleviate driver cash collection responsibilities and provide better and smoother service. While there are Fare Registers (similar to Farebox) currently installed on County buses, they are not owned by the County and would, therefore, not remain on the buses if the current operator is not awarded the contract.

• The Department has also determined that text messaging services are in demand by the ridership. These are greatly used by other transit systems (such as COOCOO provided by NJ Transit – text “Suffern to Hoboken” to 266266 for an example). Additionally, passengers may simply sign up to receive specific alerts, or request information while waiting at a specific stop.

A pre-bid meeting for vendors will be held on February 15, 2012. Potential bidders interested in obtaining a copy of the RFB may contact the Rockland County Purchasing Department at (845) 364-3820.

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