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Auxiliary Service Provider

Auxiliary Service Provider
RFI #: 2023 – 048
Request for Information

Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) provides fixed route, paratransit, and vanpool service throughout Whatcom County. WTA is a municipal corporation formed in 1983. The transit revenue fleet consists of 63 fixed route buses, 45 paratransit vehicles, and 35 vanpools.

WTA’s mission is to enhance our community by:

  • Delivering safe, reliable, efficient and friendly service
  • Offering environmentally sound transportation choices
  • Providing leadership in creating innovative transportation solutions
  • Partnering with our community to improve transportation systems

Additional information about WTA can be found at www.ridewta.com.


The purpose of this request is to gather information regarding potential available service providers. This is a “Request for Information” only and not subject to any future contract.

WTA is researching alternative ways to provide Zone and Paratransit services to the Point Roberts and potential Lummi Island areas and is interested in all ideas from the vendor community.

  1. Are there vendors that could provide some or all of the service available?
    1. Who are they?
    2. What is a reasonable estimate of the cost?
  2. If there is no interest or solutions, why?

WTA has previously contracted to 3rd parties for this service, however, obtaining a new contractor who can meet all of the service and contractual requirements, including drug and alcohol testing, insurance, and the ability to cross the US/Canada border has proved challenging for the last several years. 

Internal staffing challenges coupled with the overall cost to provide the service within its own fleet make it prohibitive to bring the work in-house.


A previous service, which is no longer in business, augmented WTA’s Zone and Paratransit service using an advance reservation model that provided curb-to-curb and door-to-door services. A portion of this service was for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)1 eligible riders, while the majority was for the general public using the Zone service.

WTA offers what it calls “Zone Service” (map attached on page 4), which provides limited service to the general public in rural areas of Whatcom County on certain days of the week depending on the area. For example, on Tuesday and Friday, Zone Service is provided in North East Whatcom County: Everson, Lynden, and Sumas. Riders on Zone Service are picked up at a rider designated time and location and dropped off at the nearest transit station (Downtown Station, Cordata Station, Ferndale Station, or Lynden Station).

Occasionally, timing coupled with location on some of these rides, makes performance by WTA inefficient so using a contractor for these outliers was ideal.

WTA also offers “Paratransit Service”, which provides door-to-door service for eligible riders. Rides (including the pickup and drop-off) must be scheduled by 5:00 pm the previous day. One exception is medical “Will Calls” where an eligible rider can call and schedule a pickup with a reservation but without a specific time. Typically, Paratransit service mimics Fixed Route service hours and geographical area within ¾ mile of the Fixed Route service corridor.

Under the previous model, rides were scheduled no later than 5:00 pm the day before and WTA communicated rides assigned to the contractor up to, but not later than 7:00 pm. WTA assigned rides based on location and rider needs. On occasion, riders have a mobility device, such as a wheelchair. When the contractor did not have a wheelchair accessible vehicle, WTA was required to perform the ride. Service providers would need the ability to provide all rides, including all ADA-eligible rides.

Two of the more challenging service areas include Lummi Island and Point Roberts. Access to Lummi Island is by ferry only which has space for 20 passenger vehicles and makes runs between Lummi Island and the mainland every 20 minutes. Point Roberts access is through the USA/Canada border which provides unique requirements and challenges.

Historically, these Lummi Island and Point Roberts contracted trips have amounted to 4% of all of WTA Zone and Paratransit service. In 2019, WTA’s contractor provided 1,600 Paratransit rides and 679 Zone Service rides.

When WTA contracted the service, all contracted drivers were required to be drug tested in WTA’s drug test pool. This included post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and random drug and alcohol testing. The contractors were also required to have FTA approved drug testing policies and procedures.


Submit responses and questions to:
Magan Waltari, Procurement & Contracts Manager
phone: 360-788-9332

Response Requirements

The respondent is responsible for all costs related to the preparation of the submitted information packet or any other fees and charges relating to the preparation and submission of a response.

WTA is interested in all potential recommendations and ideas for filling these service needs and encourages all potential responses providing answers to the questions on page 1 under “Purpose”.

Nothing in this Request for Information (RFI) obligates WTA to contract with any respondent. Nor does it obligate a respondent to perform.

Questions relating to this RFI are due no later than July 17, 2023 by 5:00 PM PST.
RFI responses must be received no later than July 24, 2023 by 12:00 PM PST.

1 42 USC § 12101 et seq

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