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Doral to consider other contractors to run trolley service

Doral’s trolley system might see some changes next year.

At a special meeting Wednesday, the City Council addressed last week’s interruption of the trolley service after county inspectors found some licenses needed to operate the trolleys had expired.

The trolley service was completely suspended for half the day on Oct. 18 before service partially resumed. The trolley company, Keolis Transit America, is responsible for keeping licenses up to date. Keolis has administered the trolley system since 2008.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the council voted to stick with Keolis on a month-to-month basis, starting in December, while authorizing city administrators to go out to explore other options.

Assistant City Manager Albert Childress told the council that the trolleys were never unsafe to ride.

“All the safety equipment was fully operational,” he said.

Both the council and management expressed overall satisfaction with Keolis, who in five years has received about $3 million from the city for the trolley service.

The council agreed that while the city has never had problems with Keolis before, it’s time to shop around.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to let other people respond to the needs of this community,” said Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz.

On Thursday, two trolleys had issues and temporarily shut down one of the service’s three routes. One trolley’s brakes failed and the other’s engine overheated, according to Childress. The latter was back up and running by the afternoon while the other’s brakes got repaired.

“Since 2008 this is the first time we’ve experienced any problems with them,” Childress said on Thursday, noting the unfortunate timing of Thursday’s breakdowns.

According to the city, about 25,000 to 30,000 people use the Doral Trolley each month.

Wednesday’s meeting marked the second special meeting in as many weeks. The mayor called it to discuss the trolleys, proper use of the city seal and the mayor’s desire to hire a new chief of staff.

His former chief of staff, Gonzalo Bello, resigned Monday days after El Nuevo Herald reported that he had signed a questionable contract to rent an office used during Boria’s mayoral campaign last year.

Even though similar offices cost more the $3,500 per month, Boria’s campaign only paid $250. Bello was working for Boria’s campaign at the time.

Boria said Thursday Bello had resigned to pursue a law degree.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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