• FirstGroup Chief Executive Appointed to National Safety Council Board

    by Jay Brock | Oct 05, 2017

    The National Safety Council (NSC) has appointed Tim O’Toole, Chief Executive Officer of FirstGroup, to its board of directors. FirstGroup is the parent company of First Transit.

    O’Toole was elected at the council’s recent annual board of directors meeting at the NSC Congress & Expo. He’ll serve a two-year term.

    Speaking on his appointment, Tim O’Toole said: “The council is the pre-eminent organization of its kind in the U.S. and I am privileged to be joining the board of directors. We are dedicated to safety at FirstGroup, where it is always front of mind and our way of life. I look forward to sharing ideas and best practices with my fellow NSC board members and the whole team as we all work together to keep each other safe.”

    FirstGroup is the only transportation company to be awarded the coveted National Safety Council Green Cross for Safety® medal, the highest award for safety in North America.

    The National Safety Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

    Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where they can make the most impact.

  • Driving for Books Inspired by Jermaine

    by Jay Brock | Jun 06, 2017

    Driving for Books Inspired by Jermaine
    First Transit's driver for Valley Metro, Jermaine, delivered thousands of books to three schools in Tempe, Arizona.

    The “Driving for Books” initiative was the brainchild of Operator Jermaine Bethea from our Tempe, Arizona, location who started the program four-years ago with help from fellow co-workers.

    Since that time he has transitioned from a school bus driver to transit operator, but continues to keep the program going.

    Over the past four-years, more than 4,000 books have been donated by co-workers from First Transit and Valley Metro.

    “The students are just ecstatic when receiving a gift as simple as a book,” said Operator Jermaine. “It’s rewarding for me to know that you can create a spark in a child that can stay with them for the rest of their life. It’s an inspiration to all of us who gave toward this book drive.”

    Besides the more than 600 books delivered to children at Curry Elementary School, an additional 1,500 books were delivered to the libraries at Hudson Elementary and Gililland Middle School – three schools that make up the Tempe Elementary School District.

    Valley Metro contracts with First Transit to provide bus operations on fixed routes that travel in the East Valley (Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale and Tempe) and south Phoenix areas, as well as maintenance.

    Thank you, Jermaine, for living out our values of being Committed to our Customers. Your book drive gives children the opportunity to broaden their imagination and helps them become better readers.

  • First Transit Team at Savannah College of Art and Design Team Assist During a Hurricane

    by Jay Brock | May 03, 2017
    When Hurricane Matthew barreled through Savannah, Georgia, on October 6, 2016, citizens had to be evacuated. First Transit drivers and technicians for the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) were asked to help evacuate more than 1,200 students to
    Atlanta due to the emergency.

    For the drivers, this meant leaving homes and families behind and driving the 13 hours it took to get to Atlanta – usually a four hour trip. Once the evacuees had been safely transported, the team were able to return home after four days without injury or incident.
    This heroic feat sent a wave of appreciation throughout the SCAD community for the combined efforts of supervisors, technicians and drivers who were willing to go the extra mile to ensure the college students were safe.
  • Raising $4,000 for Kids in Tacoma

    by Jay Brock | Apr 20, 2017

    Pictured left to right: Kevin Rucker area general manager, First Transit; Andy Kimbley, road supervisor, First Transit; Erika Thompson, executive director, The Wishing Well Foundation; Watson Evans, operator, First Transit.

    The First Transit team in Tacoma, Washington, participated in numerous fundraising activities throughout 2016 and 2017 including bake sales, raffles, toy, and clothing donations, chili potlucks, and wear your favorite NFL shirt day.

    All proceeds went to The Wishing Well Foundation and the foster kids they serve, raising more than $4,000.

    The Wishing Well Foundation serves children in Pierce County, Washington, who are making the difficult transition while being placed with a foster home and parents. They provide foster kids of the program with clothing and much-needed supplies.  

    According to Erika Thompson, Executive Director of The Wishing Well Foundation, “We give foster care children confidence by providing for their basic material needs.”
  • Driving for Books in Tempe

    by Jay Brock | Apr 11, 2017

    Driving for Books is in honor of Valley Metro bus operator Jermaine Bethea! For the past four years, Jermaine has supported Tempe schools by collecting and donating children’s books. As a school bus driver in Tempe, he wanted a way to give back to children at Christmas. He has continued the tradition now as an operator for First Transit where he has worked since October 2015. Last December, Jermaine donated approximately 500 books to Curry Elementary.

    “The students are just ecstatic about it,” Jermaine explained. “They show so much appreciation for something so simple. It’s really stunning.”

    Now through April 28, employees can donate new or gently used books to benefit students at Curry Elementary School and Gililland Middle School in Tempe. Driving for Books will culminate on May 16 when Jermaine delivers the books in a Valley Metro bus to the schools.

    driving for Books
  • A grateful and relieved customer after return of expensive camera

    by Jay Brock | Mar 21, 2017

    liz at las
    Vacations can be a great way to escape the realities of life and just enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation. That is of course, if everything goes as planned.

    Unfortunately, sometimes vacations can be difficult and disappointing if items are lost or accidentally left behind.

    Frank, a visitor from Sydney, Australia, utilized the McCarran International Airport shuttle to transport him from the County’s Rent-A-Car Center in Las Vegas, Nevada to
    the airport. 

    All things went as planned until he arrived home only to find his expensive camera, camera bag, and contents were missing. In Frank’s frantic rush to catch his flight home, he left his camera bag and its contents in the airport shuttle.

    He contacted First Transit in Las Vegas, Nev. and spoke to Administrative Assistant to the General Manager Lin Salzano about the missing camera. Much to Frank’s relief, Lin verified the camera was found.

    After Lin received an email from Frank outlining a detailed list of what was missing, she mailed the camera and its contents to a very thankful and grateful customer.

    Weeks later, Lin received an email from Frank thanking her and Driver Reginald Franklin for finding and returning his prized procession, his camera.

    “I had just resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to see the camera again," Frank Zayzon wrote in his email. “I was so overjoyed when you told me that the camera, bag and contents were found. Words cannot adequately express how grateful I am in getting my camera back.”

    First Transit has been providing shuttle bus service for the McCarran Rent-A-Car Center for more than nine years. It operates 48 shuttle buses and employs 88 full-time drivers and 11 part-time drivers.

    Going the extra mile, and in this case 7,721 miles, to reunite a customer with his camera and vacation photos is truly a testimony of our employees going above and beyond. Thank you Lin and Reginald for demonstrating that we value each customer, even when they live half-way around the world.

  • Randel lives our values every day!

    by Jay Brock | Nov 03, 2016

    First Transit manages the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver, Colo. The RTD bus system offers services at more than 10,000 bus stops across eight counties in Denver metro area.


    We recently received an email from a passenger who frequently uses the RTD JUMP route from Lafayette to Boulder, Colo.  She wrote to tell us about her experience and to express her gratitude to the First Transit employees who went above and beyond the call of duty. 

     What follows is an excerpt of the email.

    lettter RTD

    Supervisor John (Randel) Davis, pictured above, certainly “walked the talk” and demonstrated “committed to our customers”.  He went above and beyond to ensure our passenger made her doctor’s appointment and in turn she was very satisfied.

    Thank you Randel for all you do in living our values.

  • First Transit and UT put new technology in students’ hands

    by Jay Brock | Oct 20, 2016
    Thanks to technology developed in collaboration with the University of Tennessee (UT) at Knoxville, students are arriving home safe. First Transit worked with UT to identify student desire for an app based booking of late night service. 

    “We worked to get UT involved in a beta test of the system for the fall 2015 semester.  This system was adopted and has been very well received. UT purchased the system and First Transit has handled all aspects of the implementation and operation, said Scott Conroy, Assistant Vice President of Shuttle Operations for First Transit. First Transit is the Nation’s leader in University Transportation Services. 

    the t

    The T-Link operates nightly between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. and transports students to their destination. The new app now allows students to have rides come right to them rather than waiting at a fixed-route stop.

    “Just in the first month of school it’s up 43 percent,” said Moira Bindner, Communications and Customer Service Manager for UT Parking and Transit Services. “We’re constantly analyzing the route system, what the numbers are so that we can make decisions for the next six months or the next school year.”

    UT estimates that ridership will continue to increase as more students spread the word about the app.

    When students use the app – data is sent back to app designers TransLoc.

    “It’s a great way to help ensure that those students will make good decisions and not get behind the wheel if they’ve had too much to drink,” said TransLoc Director of Strategy Josh Cohen.

  • First Transit employee recognized for her dedication

    by Jay Brock | Oct 10, 2016

    committed to customers

    One First Transit team member has been recognized for living our FirstGroup values and truly keeping her customers at the heart of everything she does.

    Amelia Henderson works at the Seattle, Washington-based call center that supports King County Metro’s Access Transportation. A member of the First Transit team since 2007, Amelia received the Customer First Champion Award and trophy as recognition for her consistently outstanding service to our customers. 

    In addition, she earned a $250 incentive reward payment and one extra paid day off.    

    Recently, a satisfied customer had the following to say about her service:

    “I had to take a moment to comment on the customer service I received yesterday and today from Customer Service Representative Amelia. She was patient, incredibly helpful, and gracious after scheduling and rescheduling transportation for my brother for his recurring dialysis appointments. Briefly, the dialysis center had given Access the wrong information about what dialysis center my brother was supposed to go to, and when I called in and discovered this. Amelia called the correct dialysis center, resolved the confusion, resubmitted the request, and gave me a follow up call today to confirm all.  She was very professional and incredibly helpful in mitigating a potential problem (of having my brother dropped off from his new apartment to his new dialysis center). I'm sincerely appreciative of the Access service and very grateful to Amelia for solving my problem. There were a few more twists to this story, but suffice it to say that Amelia provided outstanding customer service. She really did a stellar job in listening and resolving the problem and following up with me. Access is lucky to have such a considerate and concerned employee. Thank you.”

     Congratulations to Amelia for living our values and vision!

  • First Transit employee recognized as “Million Mile Safe Driver”

    by Jay Brock | Sep 28, 2016

    million miles

    One First Transit team member has earned an accolade that few drivers ever do. Towanda Loving crossed the safety milestone to be recognized as a “Million Mile Safe Driver.” Towanda began her First Transit career in August of 1997.

     She was recognized during the August safety meeting by Burnsville Safety Manager Sam Lemon.

     “We are extremely proud of the 19 years of accident-free driving that she has delivered to First Transit and the Met Council. This is no easy feat, especially in paratransit, with numerous obstacles like alleys, busy parking lots, narrow residential streets, and overhangs – not to mention the constant pressures on making timely pick-ups and drop-offs,” said location General Manager Paul Johnson.

     “She is one of the most dedicated drivers and behind the wheel trainers we have. She thoroughly embodies First’s motto ‘If you cannot do it safely, don’t do it.’ and she sincerely loves providing this valuable service to the community,” he added.

  • First Transit employee and staff receive recognition

    by Jay Brock | Sep 20, 2016

    First Transit employees in Kelowna, BC, Canada were recently recognized by local residents for going above and beyond their regular job duties.  

    A local family was overwhelmed by the actions taken by the employees and submitted a letter to the Kelowna’s Daily Courier newspaper.

    “Adam McMullin is one of our dedicated Supervisors and regularly goes above what is required of him,” said General Manager, Colin Whyte.

    First Transit provides both fixed route and paratransit services for Kelowna Regional Transit System.

    An employee since February 2013 and a Supervisor since June 2014, Adam has been recognized several times for embodying First Group values – being Committed to Customers and Setting the Highest Standards.

    Kelowna Transit
  • Houston Team Accepts American Legion Award

    by Jay Brock | Sep 12, 2016
    Congrats to our team in Houston, Texas, for all their help in employing older workers. The American Legion National Award is accepted by Edell Ross, Safety and Operations Manager at the United Airlines Employee Shuttle at IAH. 

    american legion

  • Colorado technician receives title of Master Technician

    by Jay Brock | Aug 29, 2016

    ase mae logo

    Bor Baatar, a technician at the Longmont, Colo. Maintenance Facility, has successfully passed all of his ASE certifications to achieve the title of Master Technician. A significant accomplishment that requires exceptional commitment and dedication, his certification is a testament to his dedication to safety.

    A member of the First Transit team since January 2013, Bor had to complete extensive test series for his certification and like all ASE Master Technicians, he will be required to keep his certification current in order to maintain it.  

    First Transit’s Longmont facility has seven ASE Master Technicians on staff. Congratulations to the team for working hard to improve their skills and knowledge. Your dedication to safety is commendable – well done!
  • Durham, N.C., location partners in food drive

    by Jay Brock | Aug 18, 2016

    This time of year most of us think of back-to-school supply drives, but employees at First Transit Location in Durham, North Carolina know that their community has need beyond pencils, paper and backpacks. They recently partnered with a local supermarket to solicit donations the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. 

    In four hours, their very successful food drive collected more than 1,400 pounds of food. An amount that will provide more than 1,200 meals! Click here for complete coverage.

    Formerly known as the Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA), GO Durham provides public transportation solutions for “The Triangle” – anchored by North Carolina State University, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – it contains the cities of Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill.

  • South Florida location holds ribbon cutting, celebrates environment

    by Jay Brock | Aug 01, 2016

    First Transit's Palm Beach County Location recently held a ribbon cutting for the installation of new, environmentally friendly equipment. General Manager Rick Gonzalez joined Executive Director of Palm Tran Clinton Forbes, Palm Beach County Commissioner Steve Abrams, Certified Propane President Angel Fernandez and Certified Propane Operations Manager Ofelio Martinez for the event.“

     Propane fuel helps the environment and provides an good alternative fuel source for fleet vehicles. It also provides greater longevity for First Transit’s vehicles. To see full coverage of the event, click here.
    boyton beach

    From left to right, Ofelio Martinez, Angel Fernandez, Clinton Forbes, Rick Gonzalez and Steve Abrams cut the ribbon for the newly installed propane station in Boynton Beach.

  • Twitter chat spotlights transit training #allcanride

    by Jay Brock | Jul 11, 2016

    In late June, First Transit held its first Twitter Chat in partnership with our location in Seattle, Washington. First Transit’s only location in North America that conducts transit or travel training, Location Manager Tom Irvin and Transit Options Program Manager Jeanette Frazier provided guidance on the answers for the moderated chat session. 

    twitter chat

    Transit training programs work with individuals who typically leverage paratransit and provides training and confidence to ride fixed-route operations. The instructors work to develop a greater sense of independence among program participants. The Twitter chat was focused around the hashtag #allcanride.

    According to Jeanette, the Pathway Review team reviews frequent para-transit trips and find pathways that are barrier-free according to specific limitations issued by the eligibility team. “By offering this pathway they give riders another option to their transportation need and help to save the county money in the process,” she said.  

  • Fort Bend Flood Response

    by Ashley Mcnamara | Jun 29, 2016

    When First Transit General Manager Yevette McNeese learned the details of the large-scale flooding expected and massive rescue efforts needed in Fort Bend, Texas in late May, she knew the assistance needed would be more than her staff alone could provide while keeping up with every day service. She reached out to nearby First Transit and First Student locations in the area and they answered the call without hesitation.


    Employees from First Transit’s Fort Bend location, Houston Fixed Route, First Student in Houston and the Houston RAC came together to provide transportation for residents needing to evacuate their homes. Residents were taken to emergency shelters set up by the Red Cross throughout the community, as well as to social service agencies and other necessary services. More than 300 people, including their pets and most cherished belongings, were evacuated to safe locations. The First Transit and First Student teams provided 24-hour, on-site management at the Fort Bend County Emergency Operations Center for five days and provided drivers on-call 24/7 for ten days.

    The Fort Bend and Sugarland communities were devastated by the flooding. Due to the severity of the conditions, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for a 12-county area. Fort Bend County authorities estimate that 4,000 residents have seen their homes flooded and the losses in public infrastructure is estimated at $14 million so far.    

    As the waters rose, residents were picked up from their homes by the Army Reserves in high water vehicles and boats, and taken to safer meeting areas in and close to their neighborhoods. They were then picked up by First Transit and First Student drivers and taken to Red Cross shelters.

    The Fort Bend County location, a First Transit customer since 2011, has only 80 employees on staff to operate 46 buses a day and do not normally operate late at night or on weekends.  To ensure the needs of those displaced by the flooding were met, drivers were on call overnight, took buses home, worked over the weekends and gave up their scheduled time off.

    “Anybody that we asked was very willing to help and jumped to it,” McNeese said.

    The assistance didn’t stop with the transportation and evacuation services. Our employees continued to supply donations of their time and resources in different ways.  For example, employees brought in suitcases filled with supplies for needy evacuees. They spent countless hours at the shelters and emergency center.

    “Our staff got to know people at the shelter and did whatever they what they could to respond…whatever they needed”, McNeese said. “It was awesome to see.”

    McNeese and driver Kathy Williams, who lives in the Fort Bend area, spent three full days and nights at the Emergency Management Shelter.  They were on call 24-hours a day. McNeese and Williams helped families at the shelter, carrying for children and being available for any assistance needed.

    Dispatch Manager Samantha Hoelscher also spent the night at the emergency center, coordinating emergency transportation efforts.

    The Fort Bend County First Transit location also partnered with a local Mexican restaurant, Gringos, to supply a meal for the volunteers.

    For one First Transit employee at the Fort Bend location, the devastation was personal. Driver Elsa Ramon lost everything when her residence was hit hard by the flooding. McNeese and co-workers were quick to assist, taking a trip to Wal-Mart to fill immediate needs for the family and supplying donations of clothes and furniture.

    “I appreciate my staff and all of the other staffs for coming together and helping the community,” McNeese said. “Everybody gave up their time so willingly.”

    Our client and county officials were also extremely thankful for FirstGroup’s assistance during the emergency event, and sent all of those who helped with the response efforts tickets for the Sugar Land Skeeters baseball game.

    “I would like to thank you for the time you spent helping the citizens of Fort Bend County during the recent flood event,” Fort Bend County Judge Robert Herbert said in a recent thank you letter. “Your assistance was much needed and greatly appreciated.”

    First Transit’s Fort Bend location is still operating two special emergency routes to meet the demands of the individuals displaced by the flooding, which is expected to continue until July.

  • Rutgers University 2016 Commencement with the POTUS

    by Jay Brock | May 27, 2016

    On Sunday, May 15, First Transit employees from six university locations came together to provide transportation for the Rutgers University 2016 Commencement. This year’s event was unique due to the high profile commencement speaker, President Barack Obama. In addition to moving record crowds of graduates and their families First Transit faced congested traffic in the area and road closures due to security needs. First Transit deployed 75 vehicles, 130 operators, technicians, supervisors and managers to provide this important event.

    rutgers and potus commencement
  • Fresh Express Mobile Produce Market

    by Jay Brock | May 04, 2016
  • Public Transportation Works

    by Jay Brock | Apr 20, 2016
    Some great facts on why public transportation works from APTA: