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Santa Monica Council OKs Hike in Bus Line’s Security Services Contract

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By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

December 22, 2014--The Santa Monica City Council voted last week to boost the City's contract for security services for the Big Blue Buses by $384,000, putting the total of the 4-year pact at more than $2 million.

Transit Services officials say the additional money  is needed to install new security systems at the agency’s bus yard, including “automatic vehicular gates, monitoring and key card systems and security camera system,” the staff report said.

The amendment approved Tuesday brings ABM Security Inc.’s contract -- which runs through June 2015 -- to $2,24,969, transit officials said.

Once the security improvements are installed at BBB’s yard, fewer security guard hours will be needed at the facility, resulting in “a reduction of 80 hours of guard coverage per week required to secure BBB facilities,” the report said.

Standards set by the Federal Transit Administration's Office of Safety and Security require that Santa Monica's and other public transportation systems secure “public transportation properties,” according to the staff report.

Hiring an outside firm to provide security remains the City's best option for several reasons, the report said.

“An outside security contractor has a much greater ability to allocate staffing resources quickly and efficiently to respond to personnel turnover, or when BBB's security needs change,” staff wrote.

Also, security guards on the Big Blue Buses are specially trained and certified through the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. No BBB employees are currently certified, the report said.

Staff also recommended against returning to the past, when Santa Monica Police Department officers provided “en route” security on bus lines, a practice the City discontinued after concluding it was both too costly and a bad use of highly trained police officers, staff said.

In addition, using the SMPD for security on BBB lines could “increase liability to the City,” staff added.

Meanwhile, BBB officials are working on a new Request For Proposals (RFP) for BBB security services. The transit service hopes to have a contract candidate identified by May 2015, the staff report said.

ABM Security Inc. of California has held the security services contract for BBB since 2011.

At a meeting next month, City Hall staff and council members also are set to review several aspects of City contracts with providers, including staffing, policy, practices and recommendations, the staff report noted.

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