Beginning July 1, Asheville Transit System’s infrastructure will be under new management. Asheville City Council has hired Cincinnati-based management company First Transit, Inc. to hire and supervise drivers, maintain vehicles, and build bus stops. No driver lay-offs are expected.
The company takes over from Ohio-based Professional Transit Management.
The city’s interim transit manager, Mariate Echeverry, is optimistic about the coming change. “First Transit, Inc. runs hundreds of public transit utilities across the county,” Echeverry said in a release. “We selected them over several other companies because of their focus on customer service and safety. They came highly recommended and have an excellent reputation in the industry.”
The general manager will be Leon Alder, an eight-year transit veteran.
City Council on June 10 awarded First Transit a three-year transit-management-services contract with a two-year extension option. The contract begins July 1 and is valued at $135,200 for the first year — with increments of approximately 4 percent per year.
Asheville is required by law to use a management company for day-to-day transit operations. This is because cities in North Carolina are forbidden to negotiate directly with unions, and Asheville Transit’s drivers are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
First Transit is a professional transportation-management firm that provides services to more than 240 transportation systems in 28 states. They supervise 17,000 employees and maintain more than 10,000 vehicles. The company has considerable experience in the Southeast, with nine transit systems in North Carolina, including Greenville, Durham and Fayetteville.
“Riders will not experience any changes in bus schedules or routes under the new management company,” Echeverry said. “The change should be transparent to our customers.”
ABOUT THE ASHEVILLE TRANSIT SYSTEM: Asheville Transit provides bus service throughout the city of Asheville and other local areas with 24 bus routes running from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 6 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Transit maps and schedules are available here.
Routes radiate from the Transit Center, located downtown at 49 Coxe Ave. next to the Post Office. The center provides such amenities as restrooms and indoor and outdoor seating. There is also an on-duty information assistant who provides information about routes, or from whom you may purchase monthly and annual passes and ticket books.
— Hal L. Millard, staff writer