• Tacoma Location Receives Recognition from the City of Lakewood

    by Jay Brock | Jan 03, 2019
    Tacoma 2018 Business showcase

    Don Anderson, Mayor of the City of Lakewood, Washington, recently recognized our Tacoma location at a city council meeting for their community engagement efforts.

    General Manager Raul Silva attended the meeting and was presented with a plaque that reads:

    "Because of its commitment to providing top quality paratransit service to the region through its partnership with Pierce Transit, and because of the dedication of its employees to give back to the community, the Lakewood City Council recognizes First Transit as it’s December 2018 Business Showcase.”

    “The core values we exhibit to our customers are top-tier,” said Silva. “We have some really dedicated employees and are so honored to have been recognized.”

    The location operates and maintains 67 Pierce Transit Shuttle buses, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, providing roughly 70 percent of the agency’s shuttle service annually – within the Pierce Transit’s service area.

    “It’s door-to-door service,” said Assistant General Manager Kevin Rucker.

    The desire to help others extends beyond the day-to-day needs of their customers. They are committed to giving back to the surrounding community. Each fiscal year, employees select charitable organizations they want to support during the year.

    In recent years, employees held food drives for local food bank and toy drives for children receiving treatment at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma and The Wishing Well Foundation which supports Pierce County foster children. They also sponsored a winter clothing drive for AMVETS to support area veterans.

    With roughly one-third of their employees holding veteran status, the location believes in supporting veterans and make it a top priority as part of their community engagement projects.

  • Honoring Our Outstanding Drivers

    by Jay Brock | Dec 04, 2018
    Many thanks to Emory University for putting together this slide show honoring our drivers. It shows that they love what they do.

    Honoring Our Outstanding Drivers
  • Technician earns ranking as Top Technician

    by Jay Brock | Nov 30, 2018
    ASE 52

    On November 14, 52 automotive professionals from across North America were recognized at the Fall Board of Governors meeting of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The annual awards banquet spotlights top scorers on the ASE certification tests. Besides top scores on ASE tests, individuals are also examined for on-the-job excellence, community service and other factors when being considered for the technician recognition awards.

    “ASE has recognized the best of the best in our industry for more than 40 years,” said ASE President/CEO Tim Zilke. This year we honored 52 outstanding individuals from across the nation.”

    Congratulations to Technician Pat Erickson from First Transit location in Roseville, Minnesota, who was recognized as a top ASE technician.

    Pat has been with the location since 2008 and holds four ASE Master Certifications, as well as 3L series advanced level certificates for a total of 35 certificates.

    “Pat has a reputation as being committed to excellence and it certainly reflective in his work,” said Vehicle Maintenance Manager Duane Doe. “His enthusiasm, attention to details and continuous quest to stay on-top of his trade, makes Pat the idea recipient of this award.”

  • Technicians invited to compete in a maintenance competition

    by Jay Brock | Nov 01, 2018

    metro techs
    Every year the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) holds a competition where their employees can showcase skills in driving, rail operating, customer care and maintenance. Not only do first-place winners in each category get bragging rights, they can also advance to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) International Rodeo competition.

    This year was the first time technicians Jose Cordero, Jimmy Jimenez and John Maiava from our Houston, Texas, location were invited to compete in the maintenance competition. Teams of technicians competed head-to-head in a series of stations designed to simulate vehicle components and engines. Technicians are scored on how quickly and effectively they navigated their way through the stations, diagnosing and fixing the simulated problems.

    Other events in the competition included:

    1. Written Test
    2. USSC Vehicle Inspection
    3. Allison Transmission/Cummins/EMP Power Train Event
    4. Custom Training Aid/Bendix Air Brake Board Event
    5. Cummins/Voith Power Train Event
    6. Thermo King HVAC IntelligAIRE Event
    7. MCI Multiplex Module
    8. Vapor Door Event

    “It was an excellent experience for our technicians,” said manager of safety Steve Elsen. “Jose, Jimmy and John are all highly skilled technicians. They reflect the best traditions of our company’s commitment to technical excellence. Although they didn’t place in the top three spots this year, I’m sure they will be invited back next year. They are among the very best technicians we have and are at the top of their game.”

    Congratulations to the Houston team for your fine efforts in the competition. You display our value of Setting the Highest Standards.

     

  • San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

    by Jay Brock | Oct 02, 2018
  • Tim McGowan Retires from First Transit

    by Jay Brock | Sep 14, 2018
    tim mcgowan

    Tim started his transportation career in the ambulance business in Monrovia, California, in 1978. With more than 23 years at First Transit, he can operate any type of transit vehicle: ambulances, cutaways, fixed route vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and diesel-electric hybrids.

    Tim is known for his ability to develop strong, long-lasting customer partnerships. Tim has continued his education including professional courses in paratransit management and is a Certified Community Transit Manager. Tim is also a founding member of the Greater Pasadena Aid Fund and a voting member of the California Association of Coordinated Transportation (CALACT).

    We thank Tim for his unending dedication to all his passengers.
  • First Transit Team at the University of Tennessee Ready for Back-To-School

    by Jay Brock | Aug 30, 2018

    U of T final

    Our team in Knoxville is ready for back-to-school for the Vols. Kim, Frank, Jeanie, Laura, Hugh, Deborah and John are just a few of the more than 50 employees providing transportation to 1.2 million passengers annually at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, commonly referred to as ‘T.’

    First Transit operates five fixed-route using 15 vehicles, plus an on-demand service called ‘T-Access’ and ‘T-Link.’

    The first Vols home football game is on September 8, and we will transport 110,000 fans in less than 24-hours heading to Neyland Stadium.

    We appreciate everything the team in Knoxville does to provide excellent service to the entire University of Tennessee community. 
  • Transit drivers praised by a satisfied customer for exceptional service

    by Jay Brock | Aug 16, 2018

    Surrey BC Dain and Morteza

    Our location in Surrey, British Columbia, operates Langley Community Shuttle for their customer, Translink. The location operates a fleet of 20 shuttle buses serving seven routes with a staff of 44 drivers. Many of these drivers have been serving the Langley community for more than 10 years.

    Recently, a satisfied passenger, Clayton, wanted to share how pleased he was with two of the location’s drivers, Dain Friesen and Morteza Maleki.

    “Without question, two of the finest drivers with customer service personality and duty to the job,” Clayton wrote in an email. “Seeing their daily interactions with customers is very pleasant to see.”

    General Manager Scott Crinson wasn’t surprised to learn of this email. “I always appreciate hearing from our customers – especially when one of our drivers has made such a positive impression. I’m grateful to all my staff for the terrific work they do every day, and I’m happy to congratulate Dain and Morteza on a job well done.”

    Thank you, Dain and Morteza, for your great work in showcasing our value of being Committed to our Customers.

  • 1.6 Million Miles Accident-Free

    by Jay Brock | Jul 02, 2018

    North Carolina Team safety
    Safety is no accident. It takes a focused, dedicated effort to make safety a personal core value, one that stays front of mind in everything you do.

    For the third year in a row, our location in Whiteville, North Carolina, was recognized by the North Carolina Public Transportation Association for being accident-free for more than 500,000 miles – the best in the state.

    The location has now achieved more than 1.6 million miles without an accident!

    “I couldn’t be more proud of my operators,” said general manager Anthony Rowell. “Keeping our passenger’s safe has always been, and will continue to be, our number one priority. Receiving this award again certainly speaks volumes of my teams’ dedication to safety.

    Congratulations to the team on this monumental achievement.

  • First Transit District Manager Receives Important Designation

    by Jay Brock | Jun 11, 2018
    Lesli with CAPP star

    Lesli Stone, district manager for First Transit’s university transit and shuttle operations, has received the designation of Certified Administrator of Public Parking (CAPP) from the International Parking Institute.

    Stone started her career with First Transit in 2000 as a general manager for the Georgia Institute of Technology, then moving to Emory University and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Today, Stone is responsible for all university transit and shuttle operations in four states. Stone likes the fact that First Transit can provide transportation for students, faculty, and visitors so that the administration can focus on providing an excellent education to the students.

    “I pursued the CAPP designation because I think it is important to stay relevant in our industry,” said Stone. “When there is an opportunity for personal growth that also brings value to our customers, we should pursue it.”

    First Transit is the largest provider of mobility solutions for universities and colleges in North America, currently with 33 partners.

  • First Transit Driver To Receive a Honorary Induction at Princeton University

    by Jay Brock | May 21, 2018

    Barbara Princeton

    We would like to congratulate one of our First Transit Princeton bus operators known by her passengers simply as “Miss Barbara”.  On Monday, June 4, 2018, Barbara Baldwin will be presented with an honorary induction by the Princeton University Alumni Association.

    Barbara Baldwin quickly won the hearts of her passengers on the Central Line since starting with us August 26, 2013.  Barbara exemplifies customer service, always going above and beyond in her efforts to provide safe and enjoyable transportation around the Princeton University Campus. Barbara has an irreproachable professionalism that begins the minute she walks into the First Transit office, until she leaves at the end of the day.

    Barbara Baldwin will become the second First Transit employee to receive the prestigious award of being an honorary graduate. Miss Barbara will be honored by the 271st Princeton University graduating of class of 2018. 

     
  • Partnership with a local technical college produces outstanding results

    by Jay Brock | May 11, 2018

    atc augusta

    For several years, our location in Augusta, Georgia, has partnered with the Augusta Technical College (ATC) on various projects, and General Manager Matthew Bean serves as chairman on the college’s advisory council. As chairman, Matthew helps review the college’s curriculum and advises ATC on industry trends and how to groom their future graduates to succeed as technicians in the automotive industry.

    In April, ATC was awarded the Master Automotive Service Technology Accreditation from the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Education Foundation.

    The location was instrumental in the school receiving this accreditation due, in part, to Matthew’s role on the advisory council and because of the guidance Lead Technician Paul Anderson provided during the accreditation review.

    Paul, a graduate of ATC, spent more than 10 hours assisting the school during the accreditation process and made himself available during the ASE site visit.

    “First Vehicle Services welcomes the partnership with ATC,” said Matthew. “It is a win-win situation for both parties. FVS reaps the rewards of giving back to our local college, and we recruit ATC graduates.”

    Currently the location employees five ATC alums, as well as a student who is currently doing an internship at the facility.

    “Shortage of technicians in the industry will continue to grow if we don’t help these local technical colleges,” said Matthew. I encourage other FVS locations to reach out to their hometown automotive programs and see how they can help them succeed.”

  • Two Operators showcase their skills in Tucson bus roadeo

    by Jay Brock | Apr 23, 2018

    tucson bus roadeo #1tuscon bus roadeo #2

    Cheers erupted, hugs were shared and high-fives were exchanged when two Operators Norman Williams and Michael Williams from our location in Tempe, Arizona, placed third and fifth respectively in the Tucson Semi-Finals Bus Roadeo.

    The competition, designed to test an operator’s driving skills, knowledge of safety regulations and bus equipment, had Norman and Michael maneuver a 40-foot transit bus through a series of timed obstacles to test their accuracy and agility, as well as stopping ability.

    “They did an incredible job in representing First Transit East,” said general manager Roger Chapin. “Their professional driving skills were evident in how well they maneuvered the bus during the competition. I am so proud of their accomplishments.”

    Norman, a 12-year veteran in the transit industry is also a training instructor at the East Valley Mesa facility. Over the tenure of his career, he has no moving or safety violations, and has received numerous commendations from his customers. 

    Michael will soon be celebrating his 10-year service anniversary. He also has an impeccable driving record of no moving or safety violations and exceptional customer service. Michael also serves as a training instructor for the Mesa location.

    Congratulations Norman and Michael for qualifying and placing at the semi-finals. Your dedication and commitment to safety and driver excellence makes you “first place winners” in our book. Keep up the great work!

  • Abbotsford Police Department recognize location for their efforts

    by Jay Brock | Mar 27, 2018

    Abbottsford#2

    In November of 2017, a popular and long-standing member of the Abbotsford Police Department, Constable John Davidson, was killed in the line of duty. This tragic act of violence shocked the community and left hundreds of law enforcement officials mourning the life of a dedicated police officer.

    Assistant General Manager James Grant from the First Transit location in Abbotsford, British Columbia, received a call days later asking for assistance in shuttling thousands of First Responders and police officers from across North America and Great Britain for the funeral.  

    Days prior, during and after John’s funeral, the location provided free shuttle service for the attendees from each of the international airports, as well as to and from local communities and hotels.

    Logistically, the request for service meant transporting thousands of additional customers, modifying routes to accommodate road closures due to the funeral procession and still maintaining normal route operations.

    “James and his team work tirelessly,” said area vice president Bob Allen. “He gave up his weekend and worked late into the night for days planning this event. James and his staff are to be commended for their community spirit and commitment to our guiding principle of being Supportive of Each Other.”

    This week, Chief Bob Rich from the Abbotsford Police department visited the location to acknowledge the incredible work they did and to present a plaque of appreciation to James. Several team members were on hand for the award presentation.

    Thank you for your help, collaboration and compassion in being a “rock of support” for this community. Your actions speak with such eloquence of our Commitment to our Customers.

    abbottsford #1

  • Honoring two employees for their two decades of service

    by Jay Brock | Jan 30, 2018

    two drivers - 20 years of service
    General Manager Paul Johnson from our Burnsville, Minnesota, location acknowledges  two of his employees: Road Supervisor Bobbi Chelf Tako and Driver/Trainer Towanda Loving for their two decades of service.

    Bobbi started her career as a bus driver for First Student. She later transferred to First Transit and became a valuable member of the paratransit driver training program. In 2015, when the Burnsville location opened, Bobbi was promoted to road supervisor, where she continues to be instrumental in improving the location’s street operations, as well as instructing drivers on key safety touchpoints while reinforcing the safety culture. 

    Towanda’s career began as a paratransit driver and trainer that continues to this day. As a driver trainer, she mentors future drivers for success in the paratransit market. Last year, Towanda received the Million Mile Safe Drive Award, recognizing her extraordinary accomplishment of driving a million miles without a preventable accident.

    During a recent safety meeting, Bobbi and Towanda were recognized for their 20 years of service and received a service pin.

    “It’s employees like Bobbi and Towanda who are the backbone of this company,” said Paul. “Their level of dedication to their work and to our customers clearly illustrates they are the best-of-the-best. I am glad they are a part of our team.”

    Thank you, Bobbi and Towanda, for your 20 years of service. You certainly are exceptional role models for us in the transportation industry.

  • Three Employees Honored by the Houston Airports

    by Jay Brock | Jan 02, 2018

    Houston airport
    Houston Airports recently held its fourth annual Houston Friendly Rewards and Recognition Awards Luncheon.

    This year, shuttle operators Zora Campbell, Earnest Smith and Customer Service Representative Keyshun Tensley from our location in Houston, Texas, were nominated for the “Houston Friendly Award.”  The award honors individuals who demonstrate excellence in customer service to passengers traveling though Houston's airports.

    “I am so incredibly proud of Zora, Earnest and Keyshun for the great work they do in providing exceptional customer service,” said assistant general manager Lori Heidelberger. “Considering we had three nominations from a very large pool of eligible airport employees, speaks volumes about our commitment to our customers.”

    Congratulations Zora, Earnest and Keyshun on being nominated for the “Houston Friendly Award.” Keep up the great work!

  • More than 10 tons of food collected through annual Stuff-a-Bus event

    by Jay Brock | Dec 07, 2017
    Helping feed people this holiday season got a little easier when our location in Peoria, Illinois, partnered with other local agencies for the 30th Annual Stuff-a-Bus food drive. 


    More than 10 tons of food were donated during the month-long campaign to benefit the Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service, a non-profit organization that provides advocacy, coaching, education, food and shelter to families in the Peoria area.

    “This event takes hard work and dedication from many of my employees and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local #416 members,” said General Manager Doug Roelfs. “This food drive would not have been a success without everyone’s time, donations and support. The donations are a true blessing to the families we serve in our community.”

    This location manages the CityLink’s fixed-route public transportation services for the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District and transports more than three million passengers each year. 

  • 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.

    http://www.valleymetro.org/pressreleases/detail/valley-metro-donates-2100-books-to-tempe-schools
  • 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.