Mesa is throwing out bids for a disputed city bus service contract after irregularities were found in the bidding process, officials said this week.
The city had asked for additional information from one of two finalists for the contract, but didn’t allow either company to redo the oral interview part of the city’s bid evaluation process.
That could have created an unfair process, said Joe Padilla, a Mesa assistant city attorney.
Mesa will exercise its option to extend the current bus contract with ATC of Oak Brook, Ill., for up to a year and seek new bids.
In January, Mesa officials requested bids for a new contract because the one with ATC expires in July. The new contract is for seven to 10 years, and is worth about $5 million a year.
Of the five companies that submitted bids, ATC and MV Transportation of Fairfield, Calif., were finalists.
MV Transportation, the low bidder, did not score as well on the city’s evaluation as ATC, the high bidder. Accepting ATC’s bid would have cost Mesa taxpayers up to $8 million more over 10 years.
A seven-member committee of officials from Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix and Valley Metro assigned points to the bids based on pricing and oral interviews.
The committee had rated MV Transportation higher, but discovered a calculation error after ATC protested. Officials asked for more information from MV Transportation, and the company added $138,000 in labor costs to its bid. ATC edged MV Transportation after the committee recalculated the bid evaluations. MV Transportation protested the decision.
Keith Whalen, MV Transportation’s vice president of business development, said the company plans to bid again.
"We were very, I guess, pleased with how fair and respectful the city treated us through the entire process," Whalen said. "We were disappointed we were not successful the first time around, but we understand the action the city has taken."
John Giles, the lawyer representing ATC, couldn’t be reached Wednesday.