This fall semester students can expect to see shiny new buses, new drivers and changes to routes in the Bobcat Shuttle service as the university enters into a contract with a new service provider.
The contract with Transdev, the bus contractor that merged with Veolia Transport in 2011, went into full effect Aug. 9. Transdev is now the official Texas State shuttle provider, said Steven Herrera, Bobcat Shuttle service manager. The previous contractor, First Transit, was replaced by Transdev after a bidding process for a new provider took place last year.
Students passed a referendum in April 2013 to raise the bus fee from $78 to $95, and the increase helped sustain the new contract with Transdev, according to a Nov. 20 University Star article.
“(Transdev does) have all the new buses in on property, and they’re being readied for service,” Herrera said.
Radios are being installed, decals are being put on the buses and driver training is ongoing, Herrera said.
“All the final details prior to service are being put into place,” he said.
Transdev has brought a fleet of 43 new 40-foot buses to Texas State with only two old buses owned by Texas State, purchased in 2011, joining the fleet to create a total of 45 buses, Herrera said.
The only difference in the two old buses is that they are single-door buses, Herrera said. The 43 new buses all feature two doors.
Mitun Seguin, director of marketing for Transdev, said the new trams are 2014 ElDorado National commercial buses that feature wheelchair lifts, bike racks and “that new bus smell.”
Transdev will implement a system called SmartDrive to use on the buses to monitor safe driving, Seguin said. The company will also bring a new customer service system to Texas State this fall, she said.
Students can expect updates and changes to the service routes this semester, which are detailed on the Transportation Services website, Herrera said.
“There are some updates we feel will enhance service to the university students’ ridership,” Herrera said.
More buses will be added to routes during the “peak periods” of the day such as the morning, when students are trying to get to campus, Herrera said. To balance out the service, the number of buses will be decreased during the midday hours when they are not utilized as much.
“When everyone’s already at campus and there’s no one really riding the system, we’re going to bring a few buses off just to hold them for an hour or so and then put them back in,” Herrera said.
Training and use of simulation routes are taking place this week to prepare drivers for the fall semester, Herrera said.
Although Transdev has brought in new employees and bus drivers with their contract, many previous First Transit employees who sought to continue with the new contractor were kept on, Herrera said.
Sixty-five employees from First Transit were brought over to work for Transdev out of a total of 85 previous drivers, Seguin said.
“We should see familiar faces on the buses,” Herrera said.
Transdev’s new maintenance facility was under construction this summer but has been completed and is located off Posey Road, Herrera said. The new provider is currently occupying the space and working out of it.
Herrera said the student bus fee increase has helped the university for this coming semester.
“With the new contract, the hourly rate did go up to provide service, so absolutely the increase will help cover that fee as well as fuel,” Herrera said. “Fuel has gone up, and we’re having to balance and manage the cost impacts of those increases.”
Diesel costs are covered by the university and are separate from the fee given to the contractor for hourly service rates, according to the Nov. 20 article. Diesel costs have increased almost 79 percent since fall 2010 from $460,000 to $823,000 due in part to fluctuating inflation.
The tanks of the new buses used during the day will be topped off during the night, Seguin said.