Westchester Legislators Chairman Jenkins Asks Congressional Reps for Help to Save Fed Transit Funds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 | 914-419-5221 (cell)

Westchester Legislators Chairman Jenkins Asks Congressional Reps for Help to Save Fed Transit Funds

White Plains, NY – Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) has asked members of New York’s Congressional delegation for help in saving $19 million in federal assistance for the County’s bus transit program that may have been jeopardized by not opening up the $100 million-plus bus contract for competitive bids.

The Astorino Administration is in discussions with the present bus transit operator, Liberty Lines, Inc., over whether it was going to exercise the County’s option and extend the bus contract for another five years. Unbeknownst to the BOL, however, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) earlier had contacted the Astorino Administration to say that the $19 million in federal funding for the bus program could be lost.

In his letter dated June 28, 2013 to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, as well as to Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Congressmen Eliot Engel and Sean Patrick Maloney, Jenkins notes that the “unique characteristics” of the Westchester County “Bee-Line” Bus system, and its historical development into a consolidated County-wide system, have led to the County’s use of sole-source procedures allowable by FTA guidelines and regulations in procuring these services from Liberty Lines.

“The County’s sole-source procurement of bus operating services continues to be warranted, as to competitively procure such services at this time would require the County’s acquisition of tangible and intangible assets held by Liberty Lines, believed to be valued at prohibitively high levels,” Jenkins writes. New York City’s acquisition of assets of several private bus companies in 2005 was valued at $37 million.

“I urge your good offices to contact FTA and / or U.S. Department of Transportation to emphasize the County’s continuing need for federal formula assistance and its present conformance with federal requirements,” Jenkins writes.

The complete letter to the five members of New York’s Congressional delegation is both attached to this press release and below.

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June 28, 2013

Via Electronic Mail and Facsimile

The Honorable Charles Schumer

The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand

The Honorable Nita Lowey

The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand

The Honorable Eliot Engel

The Honorable Sean Patrick Maloney

Subject: Urgent Request for Assistance; Federal Funding for Westchester County

Bus Transit Services

Dear Honorable Congressional Representatives:

As you may have recently learned, the Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”) has publicly

stated that $19 million in federal assistance for Westchester County’s bus transit program will be

withdrawn unless the County alters its procurement of services for bus operations.1 The timing

of this announcement is critical, as the County must notify the present bus transit operator,

Liberty Lines, Incorporated, no later than June 30th on whether to extend the current operating

agreement for an additional five years.

The unique characteristics of Westchester County “Bee-Line” Bus system, and its historical

development from approximately 20 independent routes into a consolidated County-wide

system, have led to the County’s use of sole-source procedures allowable by FTA guidelines2 in

procuring these services from Liberty Lines. The County’s sole-source procurement of bus

operating services continues to be warranted, as to competitively procure such services at this

time would require the County’s acquisition of tangible and intangible assets held by Liberty

Lines, believed to be valued at prohibitively high levels.3

The County authorized the present five-year agreement with Liberty Lines in 2008, with the

County’s option to extend the contract for an additional five years. The County’s exercise of its option will not change the scope of services or introduce new services. FTA has actively monitored the County’s delivery of transit services associated with this contract, most recently through an audit completed in 2012. In fact, the County followed FTA recommendations from this audit and amended the Laws of Westchester County and policies concerning procurement.4

The County relies on the Urbanized Area Formula assistance (49 U.S.C. § 5307) to fund preventive maintenance on the County-owned bus fleet. This is consistent with legislative intent in 1998 under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) to provide federal assistance for non- operational aspects of transit, thus reserving decisions on management and operational aspects to local recipients (grantees).5

I urge the use of your good offices to contact FTA and/or U.S. Department of Transportation to emphasize the County’s continuing need for federal formula assistance and its present conformance with federal requirements.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. If I can be of assistance, please do

not hesitate to contact me at (914) 995-2800.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth W. Jenkins

Chairman, Board of Legislators

cc: Hon. Robert P. Astorino

Board of Legislators

1 David McKay Wilson, County Risks $19M in U.S. Aid, THE JOURNAL NEWS, June 28, 2013, at 1A, available at

http://www.lohud.com/article/20130627/NEWS02/306270100/Tax-Watch-Westchester-risks-19M-federalaid?

odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|s .

2 Federal Transit Administration, Third Party Contracting Guidance, FTA C4220.1F, Sec. 3(i)(1)(b) at VI-15 to VI-

18 (Nov. 1, 1998) [describing sole source procurement criteria].

3 New York City’s acquisition of assets of several private bus companies in 2005 was valued at $37 million.

4 Westchester County Board of Legislators, Act No. 93-2012, “An ACT amending the policies and procedures that

govern the County’s procurement of goods and services that are not required by state law to be made pursuant to

competitive bidding requirements, in order to specify the policies and procedures applicable to federally-funded

procurements.”, available at http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?&ID=5320 ; Westchester

County Board of Legislators, Act No. 94-2012, “An ACT amending the rules and procedures that govern the

prequalification and selection of architects and engineers as consultants to the County in order to specify the policies

and procedures applicable to federally-funded procurements of such services.” available at

http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?&ID=5321; Westchester County Board of Legislators,

Local Law Intro. No. 5322-2012, “A LOCAL LAW amending Chapter 836 of the Laws of Westchester County by

adding a new Section 836.22 to specify requirements for federally-funded purchases.”; available at

http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?&ID=5322 [all adopted by County Board Aug. 6,

2012, approved by County Executive Aug. 14, 2012].

5 Transportation Equity Act of 21st Century, Pub. L. No. 105-178, § 3007 (1998). See Jeffrey Brown, Paying for

Transit in an Era of Federal Policy Change, 8 J. OF PUB. TRANSPORTATION 3 (2005) [describing TEA-21 changes].

Bazzo 07/02/13

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