The city has selected a company to manage operations of its startup streetcar system, separate from the one that manages the city bus system.
The three-year contract with RATP Dev McDonald Transit, RDMT for short, will cost about $2.5 million, including administrators' salaries and management fees.
RDMT is also operating the new streetcar line in Washington, D.C., and the McDonald Transit arm of the company operates public transit systems in 17 states.
Next week an official contract must be signed by the city.
In Tucson, RDMT's responsibilities will include operating and maintaining the Sun Link streetcar vehicles, maintaining the electrical system and tracks, and customer service.
The company will also hire and train employees, including 18 operators, four dispatchers, six supervisors and 19 maintenance crew members.
The company also must annually write a five-year operations plan with budget projections, and it can make recommendations to the city about fares and routes.
The only other bid for the contract came from Veolia Transportation Inc., the parent company of Tucson bus system operator Sun Tran.
Carlos de Leon, Tucson's deputy transportation director, said there are pros and cons of having two different companies contract for transit services in the city.
On one hand, each company brings different strengths and specialties, he said. On the other, some economies of scale could be realized by having both the bus system and the streetcar system on the same contract, he said.
In the future, the city will likely consolidate the contracts, potentially bringing a better price for taxpayers when at least two companies bid on one contract.
Both RDMT and Sun Tran understand the ultimate goal is increasing transit ridership, and planning for transfers and connections between buses and streetcars is already in progress, de Leon said.
In its proposal to the city, RDMT acknowledged the streetcar will be part of a broader multimodal transit network and said the company wants to provide a "reliable, efficient and seamless" system.
The company will study Sun Tran bus routes along the streetcar line and propose improvements for better passenger connections.
The streetcar construction team is 55 percent through its 475-day construction schedule.
Portions of the 3.9-mile line under construction include Congress Street, Broadway, Cushing Street, Granada Avenue, Park Avenue and the Warren Avenue underpass.
Service is expected to begin late next year. The city expects 3,600 passengers per weekday.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.