• First Transit Partners with Valley Metro for Bus Roadeo 2016

    by Jay Brock | Apr 07, 2016

    Cheers erupted, hugs were shared and high-fives were exchanged when the winners of the 2016 Valley Metro Bus Roadeo were announced on Sunday, April 3, in Mesa, AZ. Participating in the test of skills of local service provider First Transit Phoenix. First Transit Mesa Operator Jason Allison and Total Transit Maintenance Technicians Brent Cantelon and Alan Kulchecki earned the top spots in the rigorous competitions that included driving skills, knowledge of safety regulations and maintenance of bus equipment.

    Take a look at the pics here:

  • #BlossomBus Has Spring Spirit in DC

    by Jay Brock | Mar 22, 2016
    Blossom bus

    Did you know the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.

    It took the coordination of many to ensure the arrival of the cherry trees. The first 2,000 trees arrived diseased in 1910, but did not deter the parties. In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft of Cincinnati and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park.

    The National Cherry Blossom Festival has grown from modest beginnings to the nation’s greatest springtime celebration. School children reenacted the initial planting and other activities, holding the first “festival” in 1927.

    Today, the Festival spans four weekends and welcomes more than 1.5 million people to enjoy diverse programming and the millions of pink blossoms on the trees. First Transit is in the cherry blossom spirit! #BlossomBus is wrapped in blooms to celebrate spring. Transit’s DC Circulator provides public transportation to the District’s main attractions and most lively neighborhoods for business, culture and entertainment at a cost of only $1.

    The system consists of six distinct routes across Washington, DC, and even into Rosslyn, VA, and provides close to five million trips a year. With a fleet of 67 buses and a staff of more than 225, the Circulator services each of its 136 stops every 10 minutes, providing simple, fast and affordable transit to residents, commuters and visitors to more than 25 museums, monuments and memorials along the National Mall.

    Information courtesy of nationalcherryblossomfestival.org
  • First Transit Driver Recognized by University Alum

    by Jay Brock | Mar 11, 2016
    A special salute to First Transit employee Barbara Baldwin who has provided excellent customer service at Princeton University Tiger Transit for two years. Barbara replaced a beloved driver Helen Joynes. Helen, who passed away, was the only driver to be made an honorary member of the Princeton University graduating class of 2012.

     Barbara has fit perfectly in her place and has become another valued member of the campus community. She was recently recognized by a Princeton alum for her exemplary service and attitude that she brings to work every day.

     To quote the letter from the alum, “Barbara is a cheerful, friendly, prompt, attentive, courteous, considerate and safe driver. She is a fit ambassador to the prospective students and parents who park in the visitor's lot.”

     At Princeton University, First Transit, is not just another vendor, we are a partner with the University and part of everyday life on campus. “Barbara is a valued member of the campus community, and has been with us for two years,” said Steven Stoker, general manager for the Princeton Tiger Transit operation.

    princeton pic

  • Nice story from our partner at Rutgers University

    by Jay Brock | Feb 16, 2016
  • First Transit Moves to the Cloud with Infor

    by Jay Brock | Jan 25, 2016
  • Bonita Is Customer Service At First Transit

    by Jay Brock | Jan 20, 2016

    Before the holidays, we surprised Yale Shuttle Driver Bonita with an #outofthebluethanks.  Bonita works first shift driving the Yale Red Line Shuttle.  A note of appreciation was sent on her behalf from Katherine I. in Yale Library Services. It stated, “I frequently ride the Red Line and Bonita is such a considerate shuttle driver.  I really appreciate how she balances good driving skills and kindness to her passengers.”  Bonita works for First Transit, the subcontractor who manages all the driving and maintenance of Yale’s shuttle fleet. 

    We coordinated with First Transit to jump on the Red Line one morning in the late fall to surprise Bonita with a gift and thank you card. Her husband was also tipped off to the mini-roadside ceremony.  She was quite stunned by our visit and started to cry as the letter was read to her out loud. Afterward, the bus passengers clapped and cheered.  She posed for a quick photo with her gifts and the flowers her husband brought.  And then it was back to business for the wonderful Bonita!


  • We Are Getting Ready for Panama

    by Jay Brock | Jan 14, 2016

    First Transit is preparing to take the helm of the bus system in Panama. Preparations are well underway for this expansion — the first for the company in Central America.

     Recently, several representatives from First Transit toured the Panamanian agency that trains and licenses drivers in the country. The National Institute of Professional Training for the Human Development (INADEH) works in close collaboration with companies operating in Panama to create and develop continuing education programs and opportunities for Panamanians.

     In addition to touring INADEH’s facility, members of the First Transit Human Resources and Safety teams working in Panama were provided with an overview of the driver training program. The program includes traditional classroom based courses as well as driver simulation training.

     Tom Harris, Vice President of Human Resources and Safety, shared, “We are honored to have been selected by the government of Panama to be their partner in providing safe and efficient transportation for its citizens. Our depth of transportation management expertise along with our unwavering commitment to safety will bring our vision of keeping people moving and communities prospering to a thriving Panama.”

    pic panama #1

  • First Transit Team in Augusta, GA, Celebrates 3,000 Days of Safety

    by Jay Brock | Jan 07, 2016

    The First Transit team in Augusta, Georgia, recently celebrated achieving 3,000 days without a lost time incident. “Commitment to keeping safety top of mind in every action, each and every day, is something that our team puts into action collectively and individually,” shared General Manager Matthew Bean.

     Matthew treated his team to a luncheon celebration worthy of the team’s tremendous achievement. 

    augusta ga pic
  • ECAT Takes Top Honors in Pensacola, Florida

    by Jay Brock | Dec 18, 2015

    At First Transit, we take great pride in seeing our partners being recognized by their peers. 

    The team from Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) in Pensacola, Florida recently took home six awards at the 2015 Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) Marketing Awards Competition, including the coveted “Best of the Best” award. ECAT is operated and managed by First Transit.  

    Competing against all other transit systems in the state of Florida, marketing entries were judged by experienced panelists and scored on innovation, production quality and overall effectiveness.

    The “Best of the Best” award is chosen from all first-place award entries in each category, and serves as the top award of the competition.

    ECAT received the award for the transit system’s year-long community outreach initiative, ECAT Harmony -- “Fall in Love with ECAT.”

    ECAT Harmony was an interactive year-long campaign launched in 2014 to raise awareness about the system, encourage people to hop on board, and foster communication between current riders and ECAT. Throughout the campaign, ECAT saw almost 13,000 visits to the ECAT Harmony website.

    The ECAT Harmony campaign also took home the statewide “Judges Favorite” award, given to the project that most effectively caught the attention of panelists.

    Representatives from First Transit and ECAT with their six awards.

  • Establishing and Reinforcing Safe Behavior

    by Jay Brock | Dec 10, 2015

    Thomas J. Harris, Vice President, Safety & Human Resources for First Transit

     Reprinted from Mass Transit Magazine

    Safety is a core value of First Transit. It is at the center of everything we do. We start every employee meeting with a safety message. So, how do we instill and reinforce safety so that it permeates throughout an entire organization?

    First Transit believes that safety is not only found in a set of policies and procedures.

    We believe that safety is a living, breathing attribute that begins the minute a potential employee applies for a job within our organization.

    Our safety program starts with each employee going through a rigorous review during the hiring process, including:

    • Pre-employment drug and alcohol testing
    • Stringent background and record checks
    • Physical performance evaluations
    • Comprehensive customer service training 

    Throughout employment, safety is reinforced through training proper thought processes and behaviors, preparing for specific scenarios, and knowing how to respond in ways that improve passenger and operator safety.

    This is done through: 

    • The Smith System Defensive Driver Training program, which is completed as part of new driver training, as well as refreshers conducted throughout the year
    • Extensive ongoing driver training, including in-classroom and behind-the-wheel training

    Supporting each other and being accountable for our performance are also core values of First Transit, and are reflected in our safety program. We encourage all employees to identify and help change any behaviors or thought processes they observe that could in any way compromise safety. 

    We strive to build a culture that is focused on rewarding improvements in both individual and team performance, which is why we have employee-focused programs, including:

    • Rewarding improvements in both individual and team performance
    • Encouraging group safety awareness activities
    • Recognizing and rewarding personal safety longevity

    Our First to Zero Initiative, which means we strive to achieve zero collisions, is yet another example of our ongoing focus on safety. These company-wide safety and injury prevention programs are designed to encourage employees to keep safety front of mind and bring attention to anything that could challenge our safety standards.

    As we work to achieve our vision of keeping people moving and communities prospering, we do so fully dedicated to safety. It is among the many areas in which we hold ourselves accountable for setting the highest standards.  

  • Employee Engagement is Crucial to Transit Safety

    by User Not Found | Aug 07, 2015

    Thomas J. Harris
    Vice President of Safety and Human Resources

    Safety is crucial in transportation, which makes it a top priority for transit businesses. “Motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage and lost productivity,” OSHA stated. “When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000 and costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved.”

    First Transit focuses on adapting its safety programs according to the needs of its employees, passengers and drivers’ needs. The program’s focus on engaging employees in safe driving practices to keep safety in front of mind, always:

     1. Employee Safety Incentive Programs
    Engaging employees through incentive programs keeps an emphasis on safe practices while rewarding valuable employees. First Transit offers both short-term and long-term incentives to employees for engaging in safety activates, such as monthly safety meetings, and maintaining safe driving records.brad tim willie

    First Transit also engages employees in the implementation of such programs. When First Transit kicked off their 2016 World Class Safety Olympics incentive program, Willie Carter, a First Transit driver for Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) in Pensacola, Florida, was recognized for driving for over 40 years without incident. In recognition for his dedication to safety, Willie was selected to deliver the ceremonial Olympic Torch to First Transit President Brad Thomas and Safety Vice President Tom Harris at a special ceremony at the company headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

     2. One-on-One Training
    All of First Transit’s drivers benefit from one-on-one behind the wheel training from our TSI-certified instructors. This standard provides individualized training for each driver, encouraging safe practices. First Transit’s TSI-certified instructors are registered with the Department of Transportation (DOT), which provides unmatched training regulation and compliance.

    3. Transit Technology
    Transit technology is constantly changing and can easily become outdated. Staying ahead improves operation’s efficiencies and reduces costs. Technology such as DriveCam engages drivers through alerting them when unsafe driving habits occur and allows opportunities for retraining.

    For 60 years, First Transit, Inc. has provided all-around expertise to both public and private transportation systems including every facet of transportation operations, maintenance, and administration including cost effective solutions. As the nation’s leading provider of public transportation contracting and services, we know transit. 

  • Essential Jobs in Extreme Heat

    by User Not Found | Jul 10, 2015

    For this blog, First Transit is proud to welcome a guest post from Valley Metro, our client in Phoenix, AZ. Valley Metro recently shared an article on their website about Essential Jobs in Extreme Heat. We thought our readers would find this especially helpful. Here’s the post:

    Re-Printed with Permission of First Transit Client Valley Metro
    Originally Published in Valley Metro's Inside the Ride by Ann Glaser

    From the comfort of my air conditioned office, I’m reflecting on some of the most essential and demanding roles at Valley Metro: the men and women who work outdoors to help keep buses and light rail trains running smoothly, even in the midst of record-setting heat.

    Of course, I decided I wanted to learn about these crucial team members during a string of brutally hot days when temperatures hit 115 degrees and the Valley was under excessive heat warnings.

    What I learned is their work isn’t for the faint of heart.  It likely goes unappreciated by many who don’t see them executing their behind-the-scenes jobs, day in and day out. I spent an hour each with a light rail maintenance team and a bus fleet care team. After seeing what they do to keep our transit system moving, I left sweaty, drained from the oven-like heat and full of respect.

    Track Maintainers

    It was an intensely hot Friday when I met a pair of light rail track maintainers and a team of bus re-fuelers to learn about their daily responsibilities, which are completed entirely outdoors. No retreating to an air-conditioned office like me.

    Each team of track maintainers actually walks an average of four miles a day along the light rail line, inspecting the track for any safety issues that must be addressed. Following the inspection, they conduct the necessary maintenance to make sure the tracks are in proper working order for the trains to travel across the 20 mile system.

    “We play a critical role, doing all sorts of maintenance to keep the tracks clear for trains and to keep riders safe,” said Brian Wisner, who has experienced several summers of triple digit temperatures on the light rail maintenance team.

    When I met with Wisner and fellow track maintainer Herman De La Torre at 10 a.m., it was already 101 degrees outside. We decided to test the actual rail track, which can get smoking hot in the searing sun. A temperature gun showed the surface temperature at 117 degrees at that time. I don’t want to imagine how hot the rail gets during the peak of the afternoon, surrounded by concrete and asphalt.

    For both Wisner and De La Torre, covering up is key. Light rail maintenance teams who work outdoors dress head to toe with hats and light-weight clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts and pants, to protect their skin from the sun’s burning rays. In addition, sunscreen is provided along with thermos containers filled with plenty of water and Gatorade. Crews are also instructed to listen to their bodies and take breaks when needed.

    “When it gets humid, and is still sunny and hot, that’s when it gets terrible,” admitted Wisner. “Staying safe is our top priority. The biggest challenge is staying hydrated.”

    It’s challenging to say the least when the Valley has experienced the first string of blistering days before we’ve even had a chance to fully adapt to the increasing summer temperatures.
    Refueling Valley Metro’s bus fleet is another critical job that’s even more challenging in the summertime.  Service technicians spend their eight hour shift outdoors fueling and cleaning hundreds of buses each evening.

    “You can feel the heat. When you start moving around and feel the heat of the engines, it gets really hot,” said Ronne McLarrin. “In the summer, I just can’t get enough water.”

    Large coolers of water and Gatorade are stationed at the fuel island for convenient access to liquids.

    “If you don’t stay hydrated, you feel it quickly. Safety first. Everybody watches everybody. It’s like a family,” said McLarrin. “It’s a necessary job to serve the public. Despite the heat, we have to make sure certain tasks are completed so that the buses are fueled and ready for riders the next day.” 

    While the Valley endures another long, hot summer, crews like these will continue to keep their cool behind-the-scenes to help get riders to their destinations safely and efficiently.
    To learn more about Valley Metro please visit their website: ValleyMetro.org

  • Bringing Global Rail Expertise to North America

    by User Not Found | May 08, 2015

    Keith Whalen
    Senior Vice President
    Business Development

    First Transit is excited to be in partnership with our parent company, FirstGroup plc, to bring our world-class expertise in rail operations to North America.

    As a leader and innovator in North American transit services for more than 50 years, our First Transit division of FirstGroup is proud to state that we have been – and remain – at the forefront of exciting new developments in public transportation. And we look forward to bringing yet another area of expertise to bear on North American public transit.

    First Transit’s extensive experience has provided us with a unique and broad range of capabilities to directly support our customer’s service needs. Not only are we able to provide best-in-class service and operational excellence, but we are also able to leverage our global expertise to benefit local needs.

    And when it comes to rail, we have plenty of global expertise to leverage.

    Already one of the largest rail operators in the UK – and the only one to run every sort of railway, including long distance, regional, commuter and sleeper operations– FirstGroup carried 330 million passengers across the UK in 2013/14.

    As one of the most experienced operators in the UK, FirstGroup is uniquely positioned to work with us at First Transit and our North American partners to add value and improve services. To illustrate our capacity for system operations and continuous improvement, our UK franchises have received more than 250 awards since 2005.

    Across the UK, FirstGroup has proposed and delivered more than $1.3 in capital investment into our franchises since 2006. Since FirstGroup began running rail operations, we have introduced more than 740 additional vehicles across our various franchises, leading to the creation of new depot facilities, job opportunities and economic growth.

    Across all of our rail operations, FirstGroup is working in tandem with industry partners and local stakeholders to provide better rail services, keep people moving and communities prospering.

    Key facts

    • Transported 330 million passengers in 2013/14.
    • Operate 1,900 rolling stock vehicles.
    • 585 stations operated by FirstGroup.
    • 27,000 services a week run by the train companies FirstGroup operates.

    We have a great track record in rail that has proven successful through different generations of rail franchising and across a range of passenger rail operations. We remain committed to retaining a leading position in the thriving UK rail market and leveraging our experience and expertise throughout North America.


    by User Not Found | Mar 25, 2015

    Lanai with InfoManagerWhat’s the most important benefit Special Projects Manager Lanai Tua sees in the Info-Suite applications? “Time.”

    For Lanai and the Reservations, Schedulers and Dispatchers at First Transit’s call center in Seattle, WA, the Info-Manager application, as part of Info-Suite, is an invaluable tool that makes their jobs easier – often eliminating the need to search through multiple screens in Trapeze Scheduling software and providing information in minutes that would otherwise take hours to find.

    “With Info-Manager, the time we need to spend on everything is cut in half. Info-Manager has the information you need to get the job done and get it done efficiently.”

    Currently in Seattle, the average call time is approximately three minutes, which Lanai attributes primarily to efficiencies realized through Info-Suite. Call takers are able to quickly find the best trip options for both the customer and the system, instead of having to search through multiple screens and can negotiate trips with customers effectively.

    On the scheduling and dispatching sides, Info-Manager provides tools that facilitate proactive planning and immediately highlight areas that need attention. Throughout the day, staff is able to closely monitor performance in areas like productivity and on time performance and proactively address possible problems before they occur. Management staff in Seattle also utilize Info-Suite applications as a research tool, quickly analyzing historical data and creating maps and graphical representations that make information easier to understand and visualize.

    Lanai said that before Info-Manager, schedulers often had to work later hours, coming in late in the afternoon and working well into the night to react to service issues. With Info-Suite, they are able to come in earlier in the mornings because the information they need is readily available.

    In place in Seattle for over a decade, the Info-Suite line of products has seen many updates over the years, and Lanai said she can’t imagine doing her job without it. “It really complements Trapeze. It consolidates the info and makes it more user friendly. “

  • First Transit Info-Client Strengthens Paratransit Services

    by User Not Found | Feb 13, 2015

    By Sean Donovan
    Head of IT, First Transit and First Vehicle Services

    First Transit’s vision is to provide solutions for an increasingly congested world – keeping people moving and communities prospering. We are fully committed to improving both customer service and passenger experience while remaining focused on safety and efficiency.

    Commitment to these core values and to continuous improvement, drives First Transit to work collaboratively with clients to establish and refine technologies to benefit transit services. First Transit takes great pride in leveraging skills and industry knowledge to benefit the transit systems and the passengers it serves.

    Recognizing the specific needs of passengers who, as determined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, are unable to ride traditional fixed-route transit services, First Transit is committed to providing safe, efficient paratransit services. To that end, we have worked with client passengers and innovative technology developers to create software applications that meet the specific needs of our paratransit passengers.

    Fourth quarter of 2014, we introduced Info-Client, our paratransit travel app. This app rounds out the full Info-Suite line of products available, including Info-Manager, Info-Notification, Info-Reports, Info-BI, Info-Monitor, Info-CT, Info-Vehicle and Info-Broker.  Each of these products is designed to meet a specific need in either using or managing a paratransit service.

    Info-Client – A Paratransit Travel App
    Our Info-Client is a versatile and scalable mobile solution designed to keep passengers in touch with their paratransit service. Using First Transit’s Info-Suite architecture, this secure mobile application allows passengers – from any smart mobile device or computer –  to enter a unique ID and a personal password for a safe, secure connection to their service information.

    This Paratransit Travel Companion utilizes scheduling and real-time information from the transit authority’s scheduling systems. The information displayed can be customized by the transit authority, using their own branding. Passengers now have greater control over their trip information with this new self-service product.  Further extending the usability of service within the hearing impaired community by offering alternatives to retrieving and accessing information, Info-Client will become yet another means of enhancing customer service and enriching the lives of our riders. 

    With eight available options, passengers can view such information as:

    • Today’s and Future Day Trips
      View basic trip information, including real-time estimates of vehicle arrival.
    • Subscriptions
      View a list of current services to which the passenger subscribes.
    • Messages
      Receive enterprise or personal messages regarding service status or possible disruptions.
    • Personal Info
      View basic client record information for review and confirmation.
    • Find Me
      By pressing the  “Find Me” button, passengers send current coordinates to the call center which can be viewed on a map and communicated to a driver.
    • Info
      View Transit Authority and call center contact information, local Transit Planner site links and Twitter and Facebook page access.
    • Send Us Your Comments
      Send comments about the service to a designated location within the company.

    The Info-Suite applications, including this new Paratransit Travel Companion, enable First Transit and the transit systems with whom it partners to jointly achieve continuous improvement to the services and the accessibility provided to the communities they serve.


  • World Class Safety

    by User Not Found | Feb 04, 2015

    Safety is Always Front-of-Mind
    Thomas J. Harris, Vice President of Safety and Human Resources

    With the responsibility of day-to-day transportation for more than 300 million passengers each year, safety First Transit core value. It is at front of mind at all times. It comes from conditioning proper thought processes and behaviors, preparing for situations, and knowing how to respond in ways that protect the well being of our employees, those with whom we work, and those we serve.

    Our World Class Safety program encourages all First Transit employees to follow best practices and thought processes designed with safety in the workplace as our top priority.

    Through the program, we are creating a cultural identity that is focused on:

    • Rewarding improvements in both individual and team performance.
    • Encouraging group safety awareness activities.
    • Recognizing and rewarding personal safety longevity.

    From management to operations, safety is the number one goal of every First Transit employee. World Class Safety was initiated to ensure that no priority, or perceived priority, should be pursued without following safety standards. 

    We emphasize this safety culture in our employee recruiting, selection, orientation, training, education, and management support. Our drivers, mechanics, and other employees are expected to look out for the safety of the passengers we transport each day. That same protection is given to our co-workers, those who depend on each of us to do our jobs responsibly and with focus on safety. Safety is continually stressed and reinforced throughout our day-to-day operations; in our employee reviews; and, at every management and employee meeting.

    Ensuring Driver Safety

    Our workforce is thoroughly vetted before hiring, with evaluations that continue throughout their employment. First Transit emphasizes driver training and best practices through: 

    • Pre-employment and ongoing random drug and alcohol testing
    • Stringent background and record checks
    • Physical performance evaluations
    • Comprehensive customer service training
    • The Smith System of Defensive Driver Training program, which is completed as part of new driver training, as well as refreshers conducted throughout the year.
    • Extensive ongoing driver training, including in-classroom and behind-the-wheel training
    • A recognized safety standard

    Because our safety and injury prevention programs are company-wide, we foster open dialogue throughout the organization with an emphasis on recognizing and rewarding safe practices; and, speaking up if an unsafe practice is observed.

    Our commitment to safety has paid off in the form of countless awards and recognition. More recently, our parent company, FirstGroup, was awarded the National Safety Council’s Green Cross for Safety Medal, the highest award for safety in North America, in recognition of our strong safety culture, outstanding safety record, and commitment to our core values of safety and customer service.

  • In Support of the FMCSA’s Military Skills Test Waiver Program

    by User Not Found | Nov 11, 2014

    Thomas J. Harris
    Vice President, Safety and Human Resources
    First Transit and First Vehicle Services

    Before leaving her leadership post at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Anne Ferro said that reducing the burden of finding civilian jobs is one of the best ways we can thank U.S. military members for their service to the nation.

    At First Transit, we wholeheartedly agree. That’s why we’re proud to support the FMCSA’s Military Skills Test Waiver Program.

    We commend the FMCSA for its recent decision to expand the program that grants state licensing agencies the authority to waive the skills test portion of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) application for active duty or newly separated veterans, provided they possess at least two years of safe driving experience operating a military truck or bus.

    To increase opportunities stemming from the program, the FMCSA has extended the eligibility period for qualified veterans to obtain a skills test waiver from 90 days to one full year, nationwide.

    Ms. Ferro said this change means that service members “who have clocked countless miles safely working behind the wheel of a military vehicle” will now have more time and opportunity to find long-term employment in the commercial driving industry.

    In our view, that’s a good thing.

     Waiving the skills test expedites the CDL application process and reduces expenses for vets. Across the country to date, more than 6,000 current and former military personnel, including Reserves, National Guard and members of the U.S. Coast Guard, have taken advantage of the waiver program.

    Here at First Transit and First Vehicle Services, we are fortunate to have among our employees many talented men and women who chose to join our organization after first serving our country.

    These veterans came from all walks of life, but share a common set of character traits. They have all demonstrated their courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.

    They have brought these qualities – this same strength of character  –  to First Transit and First Vehicle Services. Our veterans have shared with First Transit and First Vehicle Services the skills and disciplines acquired through military service. They add considerably to our high standards for service and safety.

    These men and women help carry out the First Transit and First Vehicle Services Vision of “keeping people moving and communities prospering.”

    We invite our military veterans – and others as well – who would like to learn more about careers at First Transit or First Vehicles Services, to visit the Careers section of our website.

  • Safety Stride – Taking Steps Toward Well-Being

    by User Not Found | Oct 09, 2014

    By Scott Conroy

    When those of us at First Transit state – in keeping with our core values – that we are dedicated to safety, that it’s always front of mind and a way of life, we mean it. We kick off every meeting with a reminder of safety. It’s a commitment we take seriously for ourselves and for the communities we serve.

     Along with safety, we are also committed to our health and well-being. Maintaining a commitment to our health is critical to achieving success and general happiness. So when we realized we had the opportunity to combine both safety and health into one company event, of course, we jumped on it.

    group photo

     As First Transit General Managers from across North America gathered for our GM meeting in Orlando, FL, we provided an opportunity for each of our attendees to participate in our first-ever Safety Stride – the perfect combination of safety and well-being.

     The Safety Stride, a 5K run/walk, provided the perfect opportunity for our GMs to get a running start on the last conference day. The course layout and topography made the 5K appealing to all fitness levels and made sure walkers and runners alike had a good time.

    More than 100 GMs and other First Transit employees were up for the 6 a.m. event, which took them around the grounds of the Gaylord Palms Resort. Prizes were awarded to those who showed the most spirit by sporting the most highly visible, yet also fashionable, fitness gear in the low light of the early morning. While everyone embodied our mantra of, “If you can’t do it safely, don’t do it,” some were certainly more bold in their attire than others.

    It’s our hope that the Safety Stride has laid the groundwork for future events aimed at reminding everyone of our ongoing commitment to safety and to healthier lifestyles. It’s amazing how much fun we can  have and still provide one another with opportunities and resources that support their well-being.


    by User Not Found | Sep 10, 2014

     Todd Hawkins, Senior Vice President, First Transit
    Dale Domish, Senior Vice President, First Vehicle Services

    Tire safety statistics the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlighted in a May 12 announcement stopped me in my tracks.

    Each year there are almost 200 U.S. fatalities as a result of tire-related crashes and there are approximately 11,000 tire-related crashes in total, the federal highway safety agency said. 

    The sobering numbers came out as part of a TireWise campaign that NHTSA launched to provide American consumers with essential information about choosing and caring for tires. 

    It struck me that fleet managers are similarly motivated to avoid needless deaths and injuries, and could benefit from tire advice that keeps drivers safe and, as a bonus, just might save some money. 

    Here are some best practices we follow at First Vehicle Services: 

    Buying tires
    It is very important to purchase tires with the proper load range/ply rating.  Failure to do this can lead to blowouts and/or accidents.   This gets particularly important with Medium and heavy duty (HD) trucks.  Sizes are important, but load range is critical.  The load range is determined by the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the vehicle and axle.  This should also be looked at for trailers, light duty and utility vehicles.  

    In addition, it’s important to consider the environment when purchasing tires. For example, all-season tires work well in most four-season climates.  If, however, your vehicle is based in heavy snow areas such as in the mountains or Colorado, more aggressive tread patterns should be considered.  There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to purchasing tires.  All factors need to be carefully considered.   

    Checking tire pressure
    Tire Pressure should be checked routinely. Typically at every PM, and more often if the vehicle goes through seasonal temperatures. Under-inflated tires could result in excessive temperatures, increased fuel consumption and instability in handling.  Over-inflation could cause damage to suspension components and possible blowouts if extremely over-inflated.   

    Tire Replacement
    There are several factors we look at when replacing tires. In addition to monitoring the wear bars, careful inspections of worn tires could warn us of alignment issue and /or suspension and steering issues.  Additionally, on vehicles that do not travel very far, it is important to pay attention to the date codes. Typically, tires should be carefully examined anytime the tire date code indicates it is five years old or older.  Although the Department of Transportation (DOT) has no specific time to remove a tire from service based on date, it is recommended that tires be inspected carefully at the five-year mark and then carefully inspected at least annually. 

    Your fleet is unique, but some tire maintenance practices are universal. Saving lives is the best incentive, but following these tips also can also lead to significant cost savings. 

    It’s only fitting to give the last word on this subject to musical genius Roy Orbison, who once said, “I may be a living legend, but that sure don’t help when I’ve got to change a flat tire.”


  • Dennis Jensen Completes 41 Years with First Transit

    by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2014

    By: Stephanie Creech
    Manager, Corporate Communications
    Dennis Jensen
    After 41 years with First Transit, Inc., one could easily say that Area Vice President Dennis Jensen knows a fair amount about public transit. “I’m not allowed to retire,” jokes Jensen. “They won’t let me.” His good humor and his transit expertise are just two of the qualities that First Transit colleagues love about Jensen.

    First Transit President Brad Thomas sees Jensen as reflective of the company’s core values. “Routinely, Dennis illustrates our company’s commitment to our customers and our dedication to safety. He sets the bar high and holds himself, as well as his colleagues, accountable to achieving high standards. Dennis is supportive of his First Transit colleagues and is highly regarded by them.”

    Dennis’ demonstrated commitment to those First Transit values goes back to his early beginnings in public transit. Beginning his transit career at the age of 29, it took Dennis no time to gain industry attention. It wasn’t long before First Transit recruited him to manage an airport contract that the company had been awarded. “It was supposed to be a temporary assignment, but it lasted for three years,” laughs Dennis. “In fact,” he continues, “First Transit continues to manage that contract today.” He is modest in this statement. The fact is that every contract Dennis has been involved with during his 41-year tenure is still managed by First Transit.

    Dennis Jensen has extensive experience in marketing and operations, as well as in labor negotiations, grievance and arbitration proceedings. He has had primary responsibility for transit capital improvement programs, including vehicle procurement; the construction of operation centers, as well as maintenance and transfer centers in Minnesota, Texas and Maryland.

    As area vice president, Dennis oversees four managed transit systems within the Great Lakes region, even serving as General Manager at the Duluth Transit Authority (DTA). Since 2001 Dennis has directed the procurement and administration of the DTA’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology. He also manages systems in South Dakota and Texas.

    Having earned his BFA degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Dennis also served as a Commissioned Officer in the United States Navy.  He is a member and past president of the Minnesota Public Transit Association; a member of the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association; and, serves as a Director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance.  He also serves as a Governor Appointee and Vice Chair on the Citizens Board of Directors of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 

    Congratulations go out to Dennis on his long and successful transit management career and his many contributions to First Transit.