NORWALK — The City Council Oct. 17 decided it will go with Fiesta Taxi to provide late-evening Dial-A-Ride, services from 7 to 10:45 p.m. for eligible senior citizens and disabled residents of Norwalk and Santa Fe Springs and to upgrade its past evening service by having a designated Norwalk vehicle on hand instead of calling one in from outside the area.
The council set a 30-day trail period to determine if there was a market for late-evening services and if Fiesta can do the job in light of several previous complaints.
“Some people have told me they were stranded when Fiesta Taxi did not pick them up,” Councilman Tony Ayala said.
“We need a short-term period to see if riders are happy with the new service,” Councilwoman Margarita Rios said.
“If they do not perform, you will hear about it from staff,” said interim City Manger James Parker, who previously headed the city’s Transportation Department.
Derek Donnell, manager of transit operations, in a report to the council, said that MV Transportation Inc. currently provides advance reservation dial-a-ride services on weekdays, from 7 a.m. to at 7 p.m.
Fiesta Taxi offers same-day service during that same period, as well as from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends along with its evening service from 7 to 10:45 p.m.
Donnell said MV Transportation has expressed a desire to get into the same-day, evening services but it would cost $37,321 from Nov. 1 through June 30.
Fiesta Taxi would charge $19,470 for the same time period, totaling 649 hours through June 30.
There are pros and cons, said Donnell in response to a question from council.
“MV Transportation service is on the mark but it has no experience with evening hours,” he said.
Administrative Service Corporation, doing business as Fiesta Taxi, currently provides some night transportation and has offered to upgrade that at a cost of $19,470, $29,250 and $29,490 for 649 hours the first year, 975 hours the second year and 983 hours the third year.
MV Transportation would charge $37,321, $57,486 and $59,865 for the same time period in the next three fiscal years.
During fiscal year 2016-17, 63 late evening taxi trips were made by dial-a-ride patrons, using taxi vouchers purchased from the city, but with several complaints, Donnell said.
Because of the complaints, the Transportation Department sent surveys to about 800 persons using the Fiesta Taxi service city vouchers, said Theresa Clark, transit administrative officer.
Of the 160 responses, 71 percent said they had never used the evening taxi service; 26 percent used the service once to three times a week; and 3 percent said they used the service more than four times a week, Clark said.
She noted that 59 riders said they used the same-day taxi pickup service primarily for trips to medical facilities, 37 riders responded that their secondary purpose is for shopping, 22 riders said that their third purpose is school and the remaining 42 riders said they use the service for work, personal visits and other reasons.
Lastly, the majority of riders at 83 percent (133 riders) responded that they were picked up at their scheduled appointment on time, the report stated.
The adopted fiscal year 2017-18 Transportation Department budget includes funding for current Dial-a-Ride taxi voucher service with Fiesta Taxi and advance reservation Dial-a-Ride by MV Transportation in the amount of $26,000 and $345,028, respectively.
The Fiscal Year 2017-18 Budget will be amended at mid-year, the report said.
In other action Oct. 17, the council approved a request to use the city logo on health materials at a blood drive and health fair by the Red Cross and Seventh-Day Adventist Church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at the church, 12201 Firestone Blvd., and the church’s bakery, Our Daily Bread, across the street at 12191 Firestone Blvd.
The event is free and open to all.
The council also agreed to close Firestone between Funston Avenue and Sproul Street between the two sites and to waive a street closure fee of $155.
The church’s lead Pastor John Strehle and a Red Cross representative said use of the city logo will give a higher status to the informational materials distributed and show the city is concerned about the health of the community.