On Jan. 24, the Valley Metro Board of Directors unanimously approved an action to authorize the CEO to execute a contract with First Transit, Inc. for fixed route bus operations and maintenance. This action unifies the bus operations in Mesa and Tempe under a single contract with Valley Metro directly managing bus operations in the East Valley.
“The Valley Metro Board has just made a landmark decision for transit service in the Valley,” Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta said. “Shifting from separate operations to a single contractor will benefit the system and our passengers as we make better use of funds that provide local and regional bus service.”
With a unified bus operations contract, management staffing will be streamlined and economies of scale will be realized for purchasing, training and administrative functions. In addition, it will equate to lower operating costs as routes are reassigned between the Mesa and Tempe facilities.
“We are looking forward to this partnership that will ensure the delivery of high quality transit services for all Tempe residents and passengers,” Tempe Councilmember and Valley Metro Board member Shana Ellis said. “Tempe’s priority is to provide connectivity to our residents, students and regional visitors while we also protect and enhance our transit network.”
RPTA and Tempe staff partnered to develop a joint scope of work for the contractor bidding process and evaluation of the proposals. The decision to award was based on price, an integrated operations plan, management team and firm experience, as well as continuous improvement and employee development.
Tempe will continue to administer and manage its local transit tax and define its overall transit program while RPTA will directly manage bus operations. For passengers and the Tempe community, the unification of service could assist with the preservation and enhancement of existing bus service.
First Transit is awarded an initial three year base term at a cost of $150,885,082 with options available for years four through ten at a cost of $407,764,469. Over a ten-year period, First Transit’s price proposal for the unified approach was $36 million less than the combined costs to operate each entity separately. The contract takes effect July 1.