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Baton Rouge-based Reliant protesting CATS contract award to MV Transportation

Reliant Transportation, the Baton Rouge firm that has provided curb-to-curb bus service to the disabled for 14 years, plans to protest the Tuesday night decision by the Capital Area Transit System board to award a three-year contract for paratransit service to MV Transportation—a Texas-based company that previously had a consulting contract with the bus system and is the former employer of CATS CEO Bill Deville.

Reliant CEO Rob Miller, whose firm got high marks for service and on-time performance but bid nearly $1 million more than MV for the contract, says there are several grounds for the protest. Among them: several CATS administrators—including Deville, the COO and the CFO—worked for MV or have close ties to the firm; the RFP was based, in part, off of the paratransit contract in Peoria, Illinois, which is held by MV; and, MV, through a subcontractor, has worked with the CATS procurement staff on its procurement processes.

“Part of their contract with CATS was to work on procurement and less than a year later they turned around and bid on a contract that they may or may not have written but helped the procurement department with,” Miller says.

Miller, predicting CATS will reject Reliant’s protest, says he will then file suit in district court. “Looks like we’ll be headed to litigation,” he says.

In mid-2017, the CATS staff began a months-long procurement process to rebid the paratransit contract, which, for reasons that are not entirely clear, had not been rebid for 14 years. Members of a staff committee that evaluated proposals unanimously recommended awarding the contract to MV based on scoring in several categories, including price. MV bid $6.9 million for the three-year deal. Reliant bid nearly $7.9 million.

In December, a CATS board committee recommended awarding the deal to MV, but at its monthly meeting in January a divided board deferred the issue for a month. Tuesday night’s vote was 5-4.

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