On May 22, the US government’s General Services Administration issued a draft Request For Proposals (RFP) seeking companies to provide ride-hail service in 50 major markets across the United States. The RFP is meant to reduce the size of the federal transportation fleet by outsourcing services to private companies. The total annual anticipated value of the contract is estimated at $162 million, aimed at major markets nationwide.

After reviewing the draft RFP with member operators, government affairs consultants, and staff, the TLPA (soon to be renamed The Transportation Alliance) grew concerned with numerous issues, as well as with the all-too-short time period the government allowed for meaningful comment. TLPA set to work, issuing a Legislative Alert to members on May 24. Simultaneously, the association asked for, and received, an extension from GSA to collect feedback from members within the professional for-hire transportation industry.

After an exhaustive review by numerous association members, TLPA submitted detailed comments on June 30 to the GSA that pointed out major flaws in the RFP, which appeared to overtly favor companies such as Uber and Lyft for the proposed work, without taking into consideration the capabilities of numerous other operators in various cities.

“We seek to encourage the GSA to take the necessary steps to fully engage all industry stakeholders, as we are concerned that this RFP does not fully reflect the critical aspects of providing safe and reliable transportation, nor does it appear to recognize how the transportation industry has changed – and continues to evolve. We are also concerned that the draft RFP in its current form has the appearance – whether intentional or not – to have been written with just two companies in mind, rather than the entire industry,” TLPA President Terry O’Toole stated.

The following day, 16 members of Congress also voiced their concerns to GSA in a joint letter.

“We believe it is critical that GSA work directly with industry experts before issuing any final RFP. GSA should not create a program of this magnitude without fully understanding all the issues necessary to administer such a large procurement,” the lawmakers wrote.

TLPA is seeking a meaningful process with stakeholder meetings in which the professional for-hire transportation industry can help GSA formulate a plan that keeps safety and service to passengers at the top of the priority list when choosing successful bidders.

“We are concerned that this draft RFP fails to consider driver and passenger safety; requiring BPA holders to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles; and the various regulated and unregulated models in our industry,” said O’Toole. “All of these concerns matter greatly when it comes to competing on a truly level playing field and, most importantly, providing the highest standard of safety and service to all federal passengers.”

This and other topics will be discussed at the TLPA’s annual event, which is named “Mobilize 2019” this year. The show is being held at Bally’s Las Vegas on October 16-19. For more information, visit www.thetransportationalliance.org.

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