Drivers will keep their seat under new contract

NASHUA – The city may be signing on with a new company to manage its Citybus and paratransit services, but don’t expect to see new bus drivers.

When the city transit service put the contract out to bid, the first stipulation was that the current drivers would have the first right of refusal – meaning that they would be offered jobs first, said Mark Sousa, the transit manager.

“I did not want a whole new slew of drivers to come into our system,” Sousa said.

It would be too disruptive for new employees to learn the bus routes already familiar to drivers, he said.

A request for qualifications yielded three companies, each of which was then invited to bid. The contract was then awarded to First Transit Inc., the same company that now manages what’s called the Transit Management Co. of Nashua.

“It’s a different entity within the company,” Sousa said.

The new contract was endorsed by the city’s finance committee and now must first be approved by the board of aldermen. The contract runs from July 1 through June 30, 2014. The cost ranges from $344,316 in the first year to more than $392,000 for the final year, plus variable costs that range from $24.41 to $27.86 per hour.

The cost represents the city’s share of a matching grant to run the bus service, Sousa said. Most of the cost of the Citybus system is paid through a federal grant, he said.Citybus offers six fixed routes that cover the city’s most populated neighborhoods, as well as commercial and industrial areas. All routes start at the Nashua Transit Center on Elm Street behind City Hall. Other bus stops are located every two or three blocks along each route and are marked with a Citybus sign.

Nashua Transit System also provides demand response service through its Citylift program. Citylift is open to those residents of Nashua with special mobility needs, the disabled or the elderly. Limited Citylift service is also provided to the towns of Merrimack and Hudson.