Muni OKs $17.1M contract for guards

The Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors approved a $17.1 million security contract Tuesday that includes funding for cable car observers.

The contract went to King Security, which has handled Muni security since at least 2000. The security company will provide armed and unarmed guards along Muni routes, video surveillance, management and administration.

The new contract also calls on the San Francisco-based company to provide plain-clothed observers to control fare loss on The City’s cable cars. Observers will work in teams of two on an as-needed basis, according to the contract, and there will be six to eight security guards to rotate shifts.

According to Muni spokesman Alan Siegel, Muni stopped using plain-clothed security a year ago because of cost and training issues.

A report released in April, however, found that fare collectors failed to take money from undercover auditors 40 percent of the time. The audit prompted Muni chief Nathaniel Ford to call for a revival of the program.

The King Security contract lasts for three years starting around the beginning of 2008 and can be extended another two years.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, union representatives and others expressed dismay that San Francisco went with a nonunion contractor again for such a large account, but Muni Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose said there were no other bidders with the armed guard experience of King Security. Two directors voted against the contract.

The contract was for an amount up to $16 million, but $1.1 million was added to the total in case the cost of living goes up dramatically or if an emergency were to require overtime or added costs.

bbegin@examiner.com

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