Caltrain approves contract with new operator TransitAmerica

(S.F. Examiner file photo)

(S.F. Examiner file photo)

Caltrain, which has struggled with gaping budget deficits the past several years, approved a five-year deal with a Missouri-based company to take over its train operations, although the new contract was not the cheapest one offered to the regional rail provider.

TransitAmerica was chosen unanimously by the Caltrain board of directors on Thursday, a move that marked the end of the transit agency’s 20-year partnership with Amtrak. TransitAmerica will oversee the conductors, station agents, and other employees involved in the day-to-day operations of Caltrain. Every worker formerly employed by Amtrak will have the chance to join the TransitAmerica team, Caltrain officials have said.

The first year of the five-year contract with TransitAmerica will cost Caltrain $59.5 million. At least one other contractor offered a bid cheaper than TransitAmerica’s proposal, but Caltrain opted to go with the Missouri-based provider because it scored the highest on a series of service criteria.

Caltrain said that while cost was an important factor, it wasn’t the only one in determining who the agency would choose for its new operator. Still, the agency said it would achieve savings over the course of its five-year contract.

“The selected provider did not provide the lowest cost to the agency, but it did provide the most realistic and comprehensive proposal that demonstrated how it could achieve savings to the system through more efficient operations,” the agency said in a statement Thursday.

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