FirstGroup takes over bussing service

The company, which previously held the U contract, is once again in charge of buses.

by Anna Ewart

The company currently contracted by the University

to manage campus shuttle services has been bought out by the company previously in charge.

FirstGroup, an international transportation company based in the United Kingdom, aquired Laidlaw International Inc. on Monday, according to an update from FirstGroup.

Through the $3.4 billion deal, FirstGroup acquired Greyhound Lines, the only inter-city busing system in the United States and Canada.

Mary Sienko, marketing manager for University Parking and Transportation Services, said the University had a contract with First Student, a division of FirstGroup. That contract expired in June and Laidlaw took over in July.

Other Twin Cities buses are not controlled by either company, but are instead managed by the Metropolitan Council.

According to its Web site, University Parking and Transportation Services receives no central funding from the University and operates like a business.

Before Laidlaw began managing the campus shuttle services, the University took bids from different companies.

Jeff Pearson, the regional vice president of First Student, said the organization did bid to renew its contract with the University.

Sienko said the University is interested in getting a new fleet of buses next year. Laidlaw’s ability to provide new buses was one reason the University chose to contract with the company.

The buyout won’t affect the arrival of new buses, Sienko said.

Some newer buses have already arrived. The schedules and routes, which are determined by the University, are still the same, as are most of the drivers.

Some students said they have already noticed changes in the buses.

Kyle Page, a geography senior at the University, said the buses get full sometimes but the schedules are basically the same as last year. He said he noticed that some of the buses have been improved.

Brad VandeVoort, a marketing senior, said he takes the Campus Connectors often. The connectors are one of several campus shuttle services, all of which are free for students.

“Today I waited for 15 minutes,” VandeVoort said. “I have a good chance of getting to class late.”