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MTA approves $202 million radio and dispatch contract

A MTA bus passes Park Row in Lower

A MTA bus passes Park Row in Lower Manhattan, on Feb. 24, 2016. The MTA approved a new $202 million radio and dispatch contract. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

The MTA approved a $202 million contract Wednesday for a new type of dispatching and radio system for the city’s bus fleet despite a protest from one contractor who offered it at a lower cost.

The Parsons Transportation group was picked to install the TETRA system, which combines dispatching and radio capability. Though widely used in Europe, it has relatively few users in this country.

Motorola Solutions Inc. said in a letter submitted to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week that its bid was $35 million lower, and it dismissed MTA staff objections that its bid did not meet technical standards.

The MTA staff said in a memo to the board that Motorola had failed to get permission from the Federal Communications Commission to operate on the proper radio band, and that the Parsons proposal met all its technical criteria.

The contract was approved Wednesday by a voice vote of the full MTA board with no comment from members. The agency’s transit and bus committee approved the pact at its meeting Monday with no comment from members.

The contract runs 58 months and has three renewal options of 5 years each to provide maintenance and support services. Those options are not included in the $202 million cost.

The MTA staff analysis of the contract said the current radio system was installed 25 years ago and was “technologically obsolete.”

The contract calls for retrofitting 6,250 existing buses and support vehicles with new mobile radios, providing 1,250 portable radios and the communications infrastructure to support the system.

In a separate action, the board also approved paying contractors on the Second Avenue Subway line an additional $66 million to accelerate their work in an effort to finish the first section of the new line by the end of this year.

After the board meeting, MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast told reporters the December target for opening was “realistic.”

He said the agency wanted to open the first four stations by December in part to keep its promise to riders, but also because the Lexington Avenue line, which runs parallel to Second Avenue, continues to have packed trains.

“Right now we’re seeing record ridership . . . I don’t know how often you’ve heard me say this: ‘most traveled line in the country.’ So anything we can do to offload the surging ridership on the Lexington Avenue line — and the first phase of Second Avenue will certainly do that — the sooner we can do that the better,” he said.

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