My APTA Bus Roadeo Experience

Posted on May 10, 2013 by Alex Roman - Also by this author

Driving a bus never looked easy. Living in California and being stuck in my car as much as I am, I’ve always had tremendous respect for the men and women who operate buses on a daily basis. So, when the call came that I would get my shot to drive in Sunday’s APTA Bus Roadeo, I was both excited and nervous.

Spending the day at the Roadeo didn’t help prepare me. The skills that the many participants exhibited were impressive and gave me the foolish belief that maybe I could do it. I would eventually be proven way wrong.

Before I got my turn to drive, I asked Motor Coach Industries’ Executive VP, Sales and Marketing, Patrick Scully, who has CDL, for some advice.

“Just remember, safety first,” he said. “Adjust your mirrors. Understand where your rear wheels are in relation to where you are in a driver position. It’s obviously a lot different than a car, it’s 40 feet long, so you have to get used to the length.”

With that advice, I jumped aboard, with Richard Daley Jr., a long-time employee for Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He explained the course to me. Advised me to slow down and use my mirrors on each side. We tested the brakes so I could see how they felt. And, off we went.

I wasn’t doing too poorly at first, mostly because I was driving straight. As soon as I had to turn, though, the cones started piling up. By the time I got to the backing in portion of the course, several of the judges had to step in and pull the cones out from the tires.

The hardest part of driving the bus was definitely the brakes. Not their sensitivity, but the distance from the gas pedal to the brake pedal. I kept thinking I was going to miss them.

When we got to the end of the course, Daley told me to punch it through a row of barrels on each side until I hit 20 miles per hour, then brake before I hit the cone. There was a wall on the other side of the cone. I was worried that I wouldn’t find the brake on time and end up hitting the wall. I got it to 15 miles per hour, while knocking down every barrel that was on my right side, but stopped on time. And, just like that, it was all over.

I waited patiently to find out my score, but nobody ever came out to tell me. I’m going to assume it was a zero, but I may definitely make the record books for the highest number of obstacles taken out.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "SEPTA and Philly library enrich rides with reading" here.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (4 Comments)

More From the Editor's Blog Posts

February 12, 2019

Come Together to Shut Down the Shutdown, Fund a Transit Bill

As I write this, we are a few days away from another potential government shutdown if negotiations on border security are not hammered out.

December 19, 2018

New Year, New Hopes for the Motorcoach Industry

Hiring and retaining drivers is the greatest challenge facing motorcoach operators, according to 70% of respondents of METRO Magazine's 2019 Motorcoach Survey. The public transit industry is not immune to this issue either.

November 6, 2018

When voting 'yes' says 'no' to funding for transportation

I’m crossing my fingers that by the time you read this, the proposition repealing California’s gas tax and vehicle fees (SB 1) will have failed.

July 2, 2018

Lest we forget, we are all human beings

As you may know, I like to use this column to draw attention to transportation-related issues that are important to me, such as climate change, accessibility, and innovation.

June 30, 2015

Can Courtesy Campaigns Curb the 'Trashing' of Transit?

It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (4)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation