Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking vendors interested in operating and maintaining elements of the Silver Line.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is constructing the Silver Line Phase II and the RFP is for the operation and maintenance of new Silver Line trains, stations and facilities, including the railcars assigned to the Silver Line, track and infrastructure, the Dulles Rail Yard and all administrative functions necessary to support operations. Additionally, the solicitation includes the option to operate Silver Line trains.
WMATA explained in a statement that under its plan to “Keep Metro Safe, Reliable and Affordable,” the use of competitive contracting is recommended as a way to control operating and maintenance costs – including future pension costs, which have grown to unsustainable levels.
“We are leaving no stone unturned as we look for opportunities to maintain transit service for the region and protect jobs, all while living within our means in light of what our funding jurisdictions can afford,” said WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. “Competitive contracting is one tool to hold down pension cost growth, while providing quality service for customers.”
Officials said the proposal for the Silver Line extension will not result in a loss of jobs for WMATA’s current workforce.
The contracting offer for the Silver Line follows an $89 million contract award last month for the maintenance and operation of buses from Metro’s new Cinder Bed Road bus facility in Lorton, Va.
The Silver Line extension could open in 2020, dependent on completion of construction by MWAA, which is building the rail extension. Proposals will be due on January 15, 2019. WMATA will evaluate each vendor based on the best value, with a contract award expected in Spring 2019.
The base contract award will be five years with additional options available.
WMATA noted that transit agencies around the world have successfully contracted some or all rail services through public-private partnerships and the results have included improved on-time performance, reliability, operating efficiencies and cost savings.
The National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC) issued a statement following the announcement that praised the transit authority. NRC believes contracting out and introducing competition will dramatically improve outcomes for riders, rail worker safety and WMATA’s ongoing financial situation.