A new transit operator will take over Dial-A-Ride service in the East Valley, a change that transportation officials said should translate to better service.
The same company also will take over nearly all East Valley bus routes, but officials said they hope passengers won’t notice any difference.
The Valley Metro board of directors approved the new transit contract Thursday, pushing aside the current bus service provider ATC. The new provider, Californiabased MV Transportation, offered a contract that could save Valley cities $6.6 million in the next decade. The contract is worth about $200 million, but that could change based on service levels Valley cities approve during that time.
Board members said they hope the only change passengers will notice is with Dial-ARide, which is now provided by a company called Atlantic Paratrans.
"There have been a lot of complaints over the years," said Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross, a Valley Metro board member. "It isn’t because it’s Atlantic, it’s because it’s a really challenging service."
But MV has a better track record with Dial-A-Ride, Manross said, and should improve service.
Phoenix Councilwoman Pegg y Bilsten said she expected an improvement because her city’s Dial-A-Ride was a "nightmare" until it contracted with MV.
"It was a difference like night and day," said Bilsten, also a board member.
MV will take over Dial-ARide Jan. 1. The company will take over Mesa bus service from ATC on Aug. 30, and it will assume most other East Valley service on April 10.
Some ATC drivers said they feared a new company might cut pay, benefits or even their jobs.