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Officials weigh switching Glendale's Dial-a-Ride provider

The longtime operator of the city's Dial-a-Ride program for seniors and the disabled could be switched to another provider that costs less and offers technology to improve road safety.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on Tuesday whether to contract again with Southland Transit Inc., whose employees have driven six city vehicles for the program for 15 years, or to hand the contract over to MV Transportation Inc., which currently operates Glendale's Beeline bus service.

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MV Transportation is asking for $5.3 million for a five-year deal, 15% less than the going rate quoted by Southland Transit, said Phil Lanzafame, community development director, during a council meeting on Tuesday.

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The item was deferred until this coming Tuesday because Councilman Ara Najarian had to leave the meeting early.

Seniors 65 and older and disabled residents use the Dial-a-Ride program to request vehicles to pick them up and shuttle them anywhere in Glendale, Montrose, La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge. A request 24 hours in advance is required and rides cost $1.50 each way.

With Southland's contract expiring, a panel of four public-transit officials from agencies outside Glendale reviewed applications submitted to the city.

MT Transportation won favor because of what the panel called strong corporate support.

"MV transportation has a strong company structure offering extensive employee training, operating and administrative assistance, and software management resources to the Glendale project," according to a city staff report. "They also have many paratransit contracts in the area from which resources can be pooled should the Glendale project need extra support."

MT Transportation would also implement a "mobileye" collision-avoidance system, which detects other vehicles, pedestrians and lane divisions in real time and triggers an audio warning for drivers.

On a point system developed by the panel to rank the application submittals, MT Transportation earned a 101.5, while Southland Transit garnered a 78, according to the staff report.

Southland Transit was dinged the most in the price category for having insurance that costs significantly more than MT Transportation.

Scott Transue, vice president of Southland Transit, addressed the council on Tuesday, saying that one of the advantages of his company is that it has 15.75 full-time employees versus 13 with MV Transportation.

Heading into next week's decision, he defended Southland Transit's record.

"We have almost zero complaints of our service. We've never failed an inspection," Transue said.

In 2014, the Dial-a-Ride services reported 54,000 requests. Last year, that number dropped to 45,000.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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