Asheville Transit: Under new management

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


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11 thoughts on “Asheville Transit: Under new management

  1. dm

    Looks like Professional Transit Management’s gonna have to change this little piece of text on their client page:

    “[Professional Transit Management has] been 100% successful in renewing our management contracts that have gone out to bid. This is an accomplishment that no other transit management firm can claim.”



  2. Matt Mercy

    You do a little research on this company First Transit, you find out that they’re another one of these transnational corporations. -Sold out again by city council. I hope they all got nice little investment tips and cushy post-term consulting jobs for this.

  3. Don M

    If you read the article in it’s entirety you will see that a management company is REQUIRED by law because it’s illegal for the city to negotiate directly with unions. Is there a transportation management company in WNC? If so then I guess all your complaints are valid. Otherwise there’s not much choice but to go with a national firm.


  4. Don, there is ALWAYS a choice NOT to go with a national firm, city council just takes the easy way out.

    We’ve got to get back to relying on ourselves instead of outsiders.

  5. Don M


    Playing devil’s advocate here, what are those choices? I really enjoy when people actually offer productive alternatives instead of just whining.


  6. Don, I’m not whining I am vigorously stating that going outside for all our solutions is wrong.

    If the city can’t manage their bus system, they should sell it off (preferably to a local company). Running a fleet of buses on time is not brain surgery.

    It didn’t used to be this way, for decades the city buses ran without problems and, before that, the street cars. Why do we suddenly need high-priced Yankee consultants for any little thing. ANSWER: we don’t!

  7. Don M

    Cool Ralph, I’m glad you have enough insight into transportation management and union/municipal negotiation law to give us that insight.


  8. Thank you, Don… I know you did not mean it that way … but most any local person with managerial and people skills and (most important) good old mountain commonsense could do it for a LOT less than some outsider.

    We need to get away from this mindset of things like this mindset that locals can’t do anything. Of course we can, we’ve managed mighty fine for the last couple of centuries and we can continue.

  9. er… a bit convoluted sentence in my second paragraph…

    basically: let’s quit thinking we can’t handle our own problems … we can.

  10. Matt Mercy

    I agree with Don in that this nation’s infrastructure (that we paid for) is being sold off for pennies on the dollar to foreign interests. I used to think things like this and “Smartgrowth” and DHS grants couldn’t happen here in Asheville, but these scumbags in city council are doing it!

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