Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Roadblock for Local Business? OKC Company Asks Why Foreign Firm Landed Airport Shuttle Contract

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Roadblock for Local Business? OKC Company Asks Why Foreign Firm Landed Airport Shuttle Contract

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - A metro-area shuttle service provider has accused the Oklahoma City Airport Trust of ignoring homegrown interests in choosing an out-of-state operator to manage a new parking facility.

"We've got 'Made in Oklahoma' slogans around town, and our officials are always stressing our homegrown strengths," said Jeff Polzien, owner and chief executive of Red Carpet Charters in Oklahoma City. "I've been paying taxes and promoting MAPS (sales tax issues) and everything else in this city for 30 years, and this is the thanks I get? Why would you not give a local company some business?"

Airport officials try to support local business whenever possible, Will Rogers World Airport spokeswoman Karen Carney said. But in this case the point is moot because the winning proposal outshone the local competitor on key issues.

The five-member Oklahoma City Airport Trust voted in September to negotiate a contract with First Transit Inc., a division of Britain's FirstGroup, to shuttle passengers between the airport terminal and a new rental car center opening next year. The contract is projected to be worth at least $3 million over three years. First Transit operates shuttle services nationwide, including a contract with the Maryland Aviation Administration for the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The rental car center has been in the works for more than a year. Airport officials said a multivendor lot on S. Meridian Avenue is necessary because rental car companies have been hampered by small customer service offices on the ground floor of the airport near the baggage claim area, with parking and other operations at several different sites. About 17 percent of the 1.8 million visitors who deplane at Will Rogers annually rent vehicles.

At the same time, metro-area governments have been moving toward alternative-energy vehicles, including those powered by compressed natural gas. Electric and CNG vehicles are a little more expensive initially, but budget projections suggest they pay off in the long run with cheaper fuel costs and repairs. …

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