December 20, 2010
Read the classifieds in this issue to learn about 7 bids & proposals and 7 transit job opportunities!
|2010: THE YEAR IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
First Transit Reflects on Its Varied Services in 2010
BY NICK PROMPONAS, Senior Vice President, First Transit, Tempe, AZ
Promponas is a member of the Passenger Transport Advisory Board.
As 2010 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a challenging—and very exciting—year for us at First Transit. We’ve all seen how municipalities, schools, and transportation providers have been tasked with operating in a more efficient and fiscally conscious manner, which has provided First Transit the opportunity for close planning with clients to maximize service and minimize expense.
We began work with a variety of new clients this year, introducing First Transit’s reliable and safe fixed route, paratransit, and shuttle transportation services to new passengers across North America. In addition, 2010 saw the announcement of a new CEO for our parent company, FirstGroup, bringing fresh and exciting leadership to our organization. Some particulars include:
Fixed Route Outsourcing
In July, First Transit expanded its work with San Diego County’s North County Transit District (NCTD), a robust system that provides transportation to 12 million passengers annually. We initially began working with NCTD in 2007, operating the agency’s LIFT paratransit service. Our new partnership brought all bus transportation under First Transit’s direction, including the operation, management, and maintenance of NCTD’s 165-vehicle BREEZE fixed route fleet.
Bringing all bus service under one operational umbrella helps the customer realize significant cost savings. Over the course of the seven-year contract, First Transit will save NCTD approximately $70 million and will help cut the system’s operating deficit in half. In these challenging economic times, this type of broad-view thinking helps organizations like NCTD provide a greater level of service for passengers, while maintaining area employment levels and leaving the door open for future expansion as the economy improves.
Focus on Paratransit Service
First Transit has enjoyed a successful working relationship with Reno’s Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) since 1978, providing safe, efficient, and sustainable fixed route services for the community. This summer, we expanded our partnership to include all paratransit services, through the commission’s ACCESS system.
Paratransit operations are of key importance to a community’s vitality, and we have seen an increased need for providers that can manage not only the service delivery, but also the call center and dispatching responsibilities. Providing easy mobility for all residents opens up opportunities for area commerce, resident interaction, and improved quality of life.
First Transit currently provides paratransit services for more than 16 million passengers and call center support for more than 7.5 million trips annually. (These numbers are for paratransit-only contracts and do not include fixed route/paratransit joint contracts.)
In 2011, we anticipate continued growth and expansion in this area as communities seek to increase services while addressing fiscal challenges.
It’s difficult to open a newspaper these days and not read about educational funding challenges. Universities are certainly not exempt, as costs for providing basic services continue to rise.
Outsourcing a school’s university shuttle service enables educators to focus their energies on the core functions of education, eliminating the headaches often associated with shuttle and other transportation services.
First Transit provides campus shuttle service to more than 20 universities and colleges in the United States, including Rutgers University in New Jersey. The university’s Campus Bus Service is the second largest operating bus system in the state, transporting more than six million passengers annually and providing more than 70,000 passenger trips each day.
In an effort to reduce emissions and petroleum consumption, First Transit will replace Rutgers’ 50 transit buses over the life of the contract. The new buses use bio-diesel fuel and specific technologies that monitor fuel consumption, idling, and driver habits. This information helps us tailor our training programs to ensure that buses are being utilized as safely and efficiently as possible. In turn, we help the university save money on fuel and other vehicle costs.
As we move into 2011, we do so under the leadership of a new parent company CEO, Tim O’Toole. With his guidance, we will be even more focused on our front line delivery, ensuring maximum efficiency for our customers. Tim is a veteran of the transportation business, having gained significant experience working with the London Underground and CSX. We look forward to introducing Tim to our customers, as well as capitalizing on his wealth of knowledge and experience to add value to each of our operations.
The new year will undoubtedly bring its own set of challenges and opportunities, but each community’s need to provide residents with safe, reliable, and efficient transportation services will remain constant. The decision to outsource operations, management, and maintenance is one that must be carefully considered to ensure maximum return on a community’s investment. We look forward to working with our customers—both current and new—to create transportation plans and models that will help them achieve their goals.