COTA's winning Roadeo team.
The Columbus-based Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) was crowned the Grand Champion this year taking the top spot at the 40th Annual International Bus Roadeo, held in conjunction with the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Bus & Paratransit Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. The Grand Champion Award recognizes the system with the highest combined bus operator and maintenance team score.
The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Austin, Texas team took second place overall achievement honors, while the team from Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority of Philadelphia won third place overall achievement honors.
"Our industry has highlighted the best of the best of talented drivers and maintenance professionals over the past 40 years and this year's winners are shining examples that continue that legacy," said APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy. "I appreciate all the work these professionals put into maintaining and operating a safe and reliable fleet day in and day out. Thanks to all who competed and congratulations to the winners."
In the 40-foot bus competition, which is the ultimate test of a bus operator's driving skills, Kevin Grady driving for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was named the best driver in North America. He beat out 56 other competitors to win the first-place award. Taking second place in the 40-foot bus competition was Raul Abarca driving for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, with the third place prize being taken by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Robert Miles.
In the 35-foot bus competition, Gabe Beliz of Richland, Wash.’s Ben Franklin Transit won first place and was crowned the best bus operator in North America in this category. He beat out 19 other competitors, with COTA’s Howard Yoder and the Texas-based Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority’s Julian Carranza Jr., taking second and third place, respectively.
Meanwhile, 35 teams competed in the Maintenance Competition, with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority taking first place followed by Hawaii’s Oahu Transit Services Inc. and Capital Metro taking second and third, respectively.
In addition to recognizing excellence among bus operators and mechanics, APTA also crowned Victor A. Duran of Thousand Palms, Calif.’s SunLine Transit Agency as the first place winner of the Customer Service Challenge Awards. This competition judges professionalism, customer service skills and problem-solving creativity.
The International Bus Roadeo is comprised of bus operators and mechanics from public transit systems across North America who participate in separate competitions, which showcase their skills in safe driving and vehicle maintenance. The Operator Competition includes events such as judgment stops, turning, and clearing obstacles. The Mechanic Competition requires skills in the identification of defects in engine, transmission, brake and HVAC modules. The pre-trip inspection for operators and multiplex troubleshooting for mechanics are incorporated as scored events.