Whether it’s customizing public transit for a university, opening a streetcar line, or operating buses in a world famous tourist destination, transportation contractors
are taking on these exciting challenges and bringing efficiencies
to the services while doing so.
METRO Magazine spoke with six prominent contractors in the industry and asked them to share some of the highlights of their latest contracts. Contractors shared how they customized service, used partnership models and made operations more sustainable.
First Transit – University branding
A substantial provider of university transit service, First Transit is currently serving 26 universities and colleges. Added to that list are Knoxville, Tenn.’s University of Tennessee (UT) and Auburn, Ala.-based Auburn University; both recently selected the contractor as their transportation partners, Keith Whalen, senior VP, business development and marketing, First Transit, says.
Part of what has defined First Transit’s success in serving the university market well, he adds, is establishing an identity for the transit system that is consistent with the university’s imagery and branding. This creates a high level of buy-in and confidence in the service.
The contractor incorporates the university’s branding into its service by painting the buses in the university’s colors and ensuring its logo is displayed prominently on the vehicles. For example, UT bus service is branded as the T, which is consistent with branding and logo of the university.
UT’s fleet will be composed of 15 new ElDorado buses, to be supplied by the contractor. The vehicles will be completely wrapped in the university’s color scheme and imagery.
“We’re really excited to bring a new fleet to that university, as well as provide the students and faculty with reliable service, and customer service that is second to none,” Whalen says. “We’ll combine our management approach for those products with the new buses and branding.”
First Transit also works to carry out the eco-friendly missions of many universities. Contracts with the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, (SUNY) and Georgia Southern University demonstrate the contractor and universities’ commitment to environmental conservation.
In each contract, Whalen says, First Transit has coordinated with university staff to procure a new fleet of energy-efficient buses that go hand-in-hand with First Transit’s commitment to the environment, its customers’ commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of the fleet and its dedication to service quality.
First Transit is now in the process of procuring CNG-powered, clean fuel, and hybrid buses for SUNY and Georgia Southern, to reduce the fleet’s carbon footprint.
As with branding, First Transit also works with universities to tailor its services specifically to meet the expectations and needs of the students and faculty on the campus, Whalen says.
“We do not approach this or any contract in an operating environment as one-size-fits-all,” he adds.
In some cases, the contractor needs specific information to incorporate into its training program to help new students or visitors get around campus. It also customizes its driver training programs to the needs of the university to make the drivers “good ambassadors to the riding public from an information standpoint as well as doing a great job of driving the buses,” Whalen adds.
Additionally, First Transit is often asked by the university to make its existing services better.
“In those cases, we take a look at the services — the route structure and the times — and we can often find suggestions that will make the services more efficient,” Whalen says.