QBS Profiles

In late 2014 Metrolinx, Ontario’s regional transit agency, issued two requests for proposal (RFP) that procured engineering services using Qualifications Based Selection. The projects were for the construction of a multi-level parking garage at a GO Transit station just north of Toronto and the electrification of the GO Rail Corridor, a major part of the Metrolinx Regional Express Rail Program.

These QBS pilot projects were the result of a year of discussions between Metrolinx and Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO). The prospect of using QBS had both its champions and its critics. The critics were concerned about the optics, perceptions and implications, at the board of directors’ level and with the public, of not simply using the lowest price. What CEO realized, however, was that Metrolinx is a self-declared proponent of evidence-based decision making. So in its endeavour to convince the decision-makers, the association provided the agency with all the research on QBS and arranged a meeting with Jennifer Enns, the Manager of Engineering and Energy Services for the City of Calgary, a jurisdiction that has successfully been using QBS for quite some time. This conversation, along with RFP documentation provided by the city, helped the decision-makers to move forward. Metrolinx will use these projects to measure the success of QBS. With positive results, there will be more projects to come.

This success comes as a result of a strong relationship between Metrolinx and CEO, as defined by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in April 2014. The MOU established the CEO/Metrolinx Joint Transit Engineering Council as the forum for discussion and consultation on matters of mutual interest. As they discuss alternative delivery methods, there is always a consideration as to whether Qualifications Based Selection is compatible.

As CEO visits other government agencies and municipalities, it raises Metrolinx’s foresight and commitment to innovation in using QBS. As a result of such a high profile client’s move in this direction, more clients are becoming open to the QBS discussion; and it is, in fact, a serious discussion of doing what is in the best interest of the people of the Province of Ontario.

– Diane Lee, Communications Coordinator, Consulting Engineers of Ontario