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Keolis Starts Up Valley Metro East Valley Bus Service

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On August 17, 2023, Valley Metro entered into a three-year contract with Keolis to provide operation and maintenance services over the East Valley bus system comprised of commuter and fixed route bus service. With an average annual service level of over one million service hours per year, it is among the largest contracts Keolis operates in North America. With bus operations management facilities in Tempe and Mesa, the contract brought approximately 900 new faces to the Keolis team.

Keolis-Valley Metro East Management Team with KNA CEO DavidOver the past five months, Keolis has worked closely with Valley Metro to deliver a quality start-up. On day one of the incumbent’s contract in 2018, there were more than 430 missed service miles. In the first week of service of Keolis’s contract, there were about 300 missed service miles for the entire week. The truth behind the improvement on day one of service is there was no shortage of long hours worked, complex challenges solved, and spilled coffee cleaned in delivering this transition. The collaboration and communication between local and corporate departments were exemplary – both internally within the Keolis organization and externally to our client at Valley Metro and our new staff. 

Relationship with our Partners

Dave ToddKeolis and Valley Metro have built a collaborative and proactive rapport through transparency and communication. “The relationship has been outstanding thus far; they like our staff—all levels, our entire management team, and our operations team,” said General Manager Dave Todd.

In fact, Valley Metro recently performed a surprise visit where Valley Metro executives went to our Tempe and Mesa locations to audit maintenance vehicles and staff. Valley Metro’s feedback was positive:

  • Valley Metro staff were impressed with drivers’ positive attitudes,
  • Buses were noticeably cleaner,
  • Operators told Valley Metro staff that their work environment is improved by equipment availability and cleanliness.

Putting People First

Whether it’s thinking like a passenger, consistent and clear communication with our clients, or the employee-centric culture at our operations - at Keolis, people are always front of mind. Using our welcome center during the mobilization period, our local human resources, recruiting, and senior leadership teams engaged with employees daily. In conversations with frontline staff, Keolis received great feedback with common themes, the most common of which were staff feeling a sense of belonging, feeling heard, and feeling connected to Keolis. In doing this work, there are no big secrets, shortcuts, or sophisticated business management strategies to help things along. It simply takes time and hard work to build trust between our partners and the new people who make up our teams.

The benefits of instilling a positive and employee-centric culture were demonstrated throughout our start-up:


  • Keolis on-boarded approximately 900 staff in just 90 days,
  • Working in collaboration with our employees’ labor representatives, Keolis hosted onboarding and training at the union hall on-site,
  • Training days were run by all Keolis local management and corporate support, providing frontline staff with direct and in-person access to all levels of the Keolis team.

Safety & Training

During the start-up, Bill took immediate action regarding safety concerns based on employee feedback. Bill deployed a customized safety campaign and a safety blitz starting on day one. This allowed our team to perform a root cause analysis to diagnose and remediate any safety concerns. Bill has created a culture of safety that evolves with current incident trends to ensure continuous improvement in safety incident frequency.


Our maintenance team, led by Grant Hendrick and Grant Hanson, implemented our Keolis proprietary approach to vehicle maintenance. Focusing on shop efficiency and organization has driven the overall effectiveness of our PMI program and repair effectiveness. Recently, an operator shared positive feedback about the effectiveness of the maintenance team during the transition.

“I always cite an issue on my pre-trips. For the longest time, none of the issues were addressed. Lately, the issues I cite are being fixed. …The mechanics are doing a good job and need to be recognized.”

In Summary

Keolis, in partnership with Valley Metro, has successfully rolled out quality service at a large operation in the East Valley. Keolis seized the opportunity to make a great first impression with our new team member in the Valley, driven by leadership and quality execution in all phases – operations, maintenance, safety, and training. A real team effort from all levels of Keolis – the on-site management team, regional support, and corporate resources all came together to ensure our newest members of our organization.