Lou Go's contracts with Farmington for public transit
Red Apple administration offices will move closer to downtown
FARMINGTON — Five years ago, Lou Go’s Taxi started as a way to try to reduce drunken driving in San Juan County.
Now, the transit branch of Capacity Builders Inc. — a Farmington-based nonprofit organization that uses grants to help individuals develop and open businesses — has received a contract with the city of Farmington for the daily operations of Red Apple Transit, such as making sure the routes run on time, hiring drivers and handling complaints.
Capacity Builders will be paid $793,000 a year for Lou Go's services, according to Farmington chief procurement officer Kristi Benson.
Andrew Montoya, the Red Apple Transit administrator for the city of Farmington, said federal funding pays about half of the contract. The city of Farmington will pay about $260,500. Montoya said bus fares provide $90,000 toward the contract, and the city of Aztec and town of Kirtland pay about $46,000 combined.
The current contractor’s contract expired in February, but the city granted a three-month extension of the contract to enable a smooth transition. Capacity Builders was the only qualified organization that submitted a proposal for the general services contract. The City Council approved contracting with Capacity Builders during its Tuesday meeting. The contract will go into effect June 1.
“On June 1, the public shouldn’t even notice that anything has happened,” Montoya said.
The contract is for seven years, but it must be renewed on an annual basis. Briana Smith, the transportation operation director for Lou Go’s, said her organization hopes to serve as the general services contractor for Red Apple Transit for the full seven years and possibly more.
There will be some changes in connection with the new contract. Instead of having Red Apple Transit's administration offices located in Orchard Plaza, the offices will be moved to Lou Go’s downtown location at 210 N. Auburn Ave. People who want to buy bus passes will need to go to Lou Go's to purchase them.
A bus stop will be added at that location, as well as at the department of work force solutions at 600 W. Arrington St.
“I think that should have been in place a long time ago,” Montoya said.
Lou Go’s office building is also undergoing a renovation, which will include the addition of a Red Apple Transit sign. The renovations will be paid for by private investors, according to Briana Smith, the transportation operation director for Lou Go's.
Unlike past contractors, Lou Go’s is a local organization. Smith and Montoya said that will be advantageous to the community.
“They understand the needs of the community,” Montoya said.
Because of the change in contract, current bus drivers will need to reapply for their jobs. Lou Go’s is having a job fair at Capacity Builders, 414 W. Broadway Ave., on April 15 to hire drivers, dispatchers and other positions associated with the new contract.
Smith said receiving the contract with the city was the next big strategic move for Lou Go’s.
The transit service already provides taxi service, nonemergency medical transit and limousines, and is adding luxury sedans to the mix on Monday.
“It just makes sense to get into public transit,” Smith said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.