Lawmakers may allow a $511 million "gravy train" contract to go to a politically connected operator who just dropped a "rare" $40,000 political donation. The agency has spent $350,000 of your money on lobbyists and lawyers to protect this "massive deal," even though it's under inspector general investigation. Only your lawmakers can stop this gravy train from leaving the station.
"Disturbing. Inappropriate. It just doesn't smell right."
— Senator Jeff Brandes
"Gov. Rick Scott responded by cutting Tri-Rail's $42 million state operating subsidy from his budget."
South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which operates Tri-Rail, asked for proposals that combined four contractors into one to "save money."
They chose the highest bidder, by more than $100 million. And threw out every other bidder, no questions asked.
FDOT Secretary Gerry O'Reilly told the Authority that it should do a new procurement, and that the Herzog's contract was $4 million over budget in the first year, and the gap would grow each year to more than $50 million.
SFRTA said they will need to raise fares to pay for the Herzog contract. And the Authority has spent at least $350,000 of taxpayer dollars on lobbyists and lawyers to defend its expensive, "sole source" contract decision.
The four existing operators have offered to continue to operate the current service and extend it to Miami under current terms until a new procurement can be done. And the cost of extending the existing contracts is less than the contract price of the new Herzog contract.
The bottomline is simple. Unless the Florida Legislature votes to require a new procurement as a condition of giving the Authority $42 million a year in state funds, Florida will waste over $100 million in taxpayer funds and Tri-Rail users will see their fares dramatically increase.