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UTC approves First Student settlement

Docket Numbers: TE-210904 and TE-190152 (consolidated)

Agreement resolves complaint against charter company for 396 safety violations 

LACEY, Wash. - Today the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a settlement agreement between UTC staff and First Student, Inc., that resolves a complaint against the charter transportation company for vehicle and driver safety violations.

Under the settlement agreement, First Student admits to the 396 safety violations identified by UTC staff and agrees to:

  • a total penalty amount of $188,000, with $68,000 due immediately,
  • pay a previously suspended $10,000 penalty immediately, and
  • provide quarterly reporting to the UTC for 18 months.

The commission approved the settlement agreement without condition.

Parties to the settlement have 21 days to request further administrative review, otherwise the settlement will become effective after that time.

The UTC only regulates the charter services provided by the company, the UTC does not regulate daily school-to-home or home-to-school transportation.

BACKGROUND

  • In March 2019 the UTC issued a $23,700 penalty against First Student for violations of vehicle and driver safety requirements, suspending $10,000 subject to certain conditions.
  • The UTC also issued a proposed ‘Conditional’ safety rating, which it later upgraded to ‘Satisfactory’ after the company submitted an acceptable corrective action plan to address the violations.
  • In January 2022, UTC staff completed a follow-up investigation of First Student and found 396 violations, filing a complaint recommending up to $396,000 in penalties and that the UTC reinstate the previously suspended $10,000.
  • At that time, the UTC issued a proposed ‘Conditional’ safety rating, which it later upgraded to ‘Satisfactory’ after the company submitted an acceptable corrective action plan.
  • On April 12, UTC staff filed a full multiparty settlement with the UTC, resolving the complaint and setting the terms listed above.

Parties to the settlement agreement are UTC staff and First Student, Inc.

Cincinnati, Ohio-based First Student, Inc. is a regulated charter and excursion bus company providing charter transportation services in Chattaroy, Colville, Rochester, Seattle, Tacoma, Tenino, and Vashon Island, Washington. In addition to UTC-regulated services, First Student contracts with school districts to provide school bus and charter services related to student transportation. 

The UTC regulates the rates and services of household goods movers; passenger transportation companies; investor-owned electric, natural gas, garbage, and water utilities; landline telecommunications companies; garbage haulers; commercial ferries; pipeline companies; marine pilotage; and a low-level radioactive waste repository.  

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Topic(s)
Auto Transportation and Buses
Charter and Excursion Buses
Consumer
General
Transportation