Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of the Menlo Park: Park Forest neighborhood, on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm
1. They picked the wrong company. They picked TransitAmerica, which has far less experience than the third highest bidder, Veolia, which is the largest private (not Amtrak) passenger rail operator in the US.
2. Although Amtrak/Bombadier was the highest bidder, TransAmerica's bid was still a lot higher than Veolia and two other bids.
3. According to Mike Rosenberg, TransitAmerica is newer and smaller company than Veolia. The best way to see the difference is that TransitAmerica's host company had $401 million in revenues in 2009, while Veolia had $8.5 billion.
Then, Mike Rosenberg reminds us that:
"Caltrain has a history of spending more money to keep what it considers top talent. [[Starting with its executive team]]
It pays CEO Mike Scanlon a higher salary than any other transit boss in the state and in recent years raised its payroll for administrative employees and paid raises to its Amtrak contractors. This year, executives revised their initial budget upward in order to keep service intact."
The point? Caltrain does it again. They are lavish with themselves and with their contracts, but annually complain about "fiscal emergencies" since they can't meet their operating budgets and don't get enough subsidies.
It's time to do away with the expensive Caltrain organization and fold the Peninsula Commuter Rail into a single Bay Area transit operator that includes BART and the Capital Corridor Joint Powers Board. That way, we will have a real Bay Area wide transit network and it will be State maintained with serious oversight.
Right now, Caltrain has no oversight or accountability except to themselves and their rubber stamp joint powers board. We can do better than Caltrain and its ambiguous multi-layered organizations that operate like a street-corner shell game.